The Lebanese Parliament legalised medicinal use of cannabis this week to bolster the export that can help revive the crippling economy that is in dire need of foreign currency, Reuters reported.

Although marijuana is illegal in Lebanon, cannabis has long been farmed openly in the fertile Bekaa Valley.

Parliament’s decision was “really driven by economic motives, nothing else”, said Alain Aoun, a senior MP in the Free Patriotic Movement founded by President Michel Aoun. “We have moral and social reservations, but today there is the need to help the economy by any means,” he told Reuters.

According to Aoun, the move would help the Lebanese government to bank on their agricultural sector after the legalised cultivation of marijuana. “We don’t want to speculate on numbers ... but let’s say it is worth a try,” added Aoun.

Hezbollah, a Shi’ite Islamist group, backed by Iran, was one of the only parties to oppose the legislation approved in a session on Tuesday.

The idea of legalising cannabis cultivation with the aim of producing high value-added medicinal products for export was explored in a report by consultancy firm McKinsey commissioned by Lebanon in 2018.

Last month, Lebanese police carried out the country’s biggest drug bust when they seized about 25 tonnes of hashish that were set to be smuggled to an African state, as per the Reuters report.