Farmers swap weed for grapes as winemaking blossoms

The first harvest in 2003 and the resulting windfall sparked a wave of interest among cannabis farmers in the area
The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Monday, October 16, 2017

220 farmers from the Coteaux Heliopolis cooperative are growing grapes for winemaking in the northern Bekaa Valley’s Deir al-Ahmar region. The area, one of the poorest in Lebanon, is notorious for its cannabis production, which expanded massively over recent decades to turn into a multimillion-dollar industry. While cannabis farming has only been feebly challenged by the authorities over the years, it remains illegal and the small cooperative has succeeded in luring some producers away from the risky business. They are looking to cash in as Lebanon’s wine industry has blossomed, with traditional heavyweights and myriad smaller producers making inroads on an ever-expanding global market.