Pubdate: Thu, 04 Aug 2005
Source: Daily Star, The (Lebanon)
Author: Morshed al-Ali
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


BEKAA: Internal Security Forces director general Major General Ashraf Rifi 
supervised the destruction of hashish crops in several areas of the Bekaa, 
reiterating the authorities' determination to prohibit the cultivation of 
drugs in Lebanon. Rifi, who was accompanied by a number of high-ranking 
security officials, said the campaign would continue for 10 days, after 
which all hashish crops would be eliminated.

He explained that there are six axes for investigation and eradication, 
each of which is supervised by an officer.

Rifi expressed his surprise at the extent of cultivation, which he 
attributed to "neglect," noting that "residents did not expect their crops 
to be eradicated, and thought that they could get away with it."

All members of the security forces have been given orders to report any 
fields planted with drugs so that due process may take its course.

According to the major general, Lebanon has entered a new phase in which 
the perpetrators of any illegal act will be punished.

Rifi warned farmers that they must cease cultivating illicit crops, as the 
authorities will continue to follow their activities.

He noted that the eradication process is very costly, as tractors and 
workers are being paid. Army personnel must also suspend their ordinary 
duties to supervise the work.

Nevertheless, Rifi held that the campaign must be maintained at all costs, 
as the credibility of Lebanon and its security forces are at stake.

Rifi announced that the ISF will submit a report proposing that 
negotiations be held with the United Nations and other organizations to 
help farmers improve their living conditions and earning power through 
legal means. Often, drug cultivation is the product of larger economic 
pressures, as growers turn to illegal agriculture when other job 
opportunities fail to provide them with a higher standard of living.

Still, the cost of permitting cultivation is high.

According to Rifi: "Drug cultivation is harmful and its effects reflect on 
all Lebanon and its society; it does not have any positive aspects."
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