Looking at hashish in Lebanon’s Bekkaa Valley

    When most people in Europe think of hashish, the first place that comes to mind is probably Morocco. With that said, Morocco’s tradition of hash production traces back to an even older source: Lebanon’s Bekkaa Valley. According to many accounts, it was Lebanese traders who brought hash to Morocco in the first place. G13 Magazine takes a brief look at the history of hashish production in this historic region, which is still famous for creating some of the world’s best hash. 

    The Bekkaa Valley, also known as the Beqqa Valley, is a fertile region in Eastern Lebanon that covers the area between the Letani River and the Syrian border. It has a warm climate and soil that makes it one of the most important agricultural regions in Lebanon. Historically, this is Lebanon’s bread basket; a center of production for wheat, fruits, vegetables, and even wine.

    Lebanon has traditionally been one of the hot spots for cannabis cultivation and hashish production in the Middle East.

    It has also long been a base of production for cannabis, which local tribesmen and farmers have been converting to hash for centuries. In fact, the Bekka Valley, along with Afghanistan is one of two regions in the world that can legitimately lay claim to being one of the first places where hashish was made. To this day, there remains an open dispute between people of the Bekkaa Valley and Afghanistan as to which place has been producing hash for the longest. 

    While the answer to that question may never be known, what is for sure is that Bekkaa valley tribesmen have been dry-sifting cannabis leaves through a screen and then compressing the crystals into hash since at least the 15th century. That is how the region became an obligatory stop for international tourists on the “hippie hash trail” in the 1960’s and 1970’s. In fact, a vast majority of the cannabis grown in this region is not smoked naturally, but instead set aside for hash production.

    The Bekaa Valley or Bekaa Valley in Lebanese is a fertile depression located in the eastern region of Lebanon, which gives its name to the Bekaa Governorate. It is located about 30 km east of Beirut, flanked by the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges.

    Even as a vicious civil war broke out and political instability gripped Lebanon in the aftermath of the county gaining independence from the French, the Bekkaa Valley continued to turn out hashish. The irony here is that throughout the country’s history, both hashish and cannabis production were illegal but the trade generated so much money, the government looked the other way. Competing extremist groups often fight for control of the region in order to corner this lucrative business. 

    Sadly, US involvement in Lebanon’s civil war led to the destruction of a lot of the Bekka Valley’s historic hash production capabilities. In spite of that, the Lebanese government approved the cultivation, possession and sale of medicinal cannabis in April of 2020. It remains to be seen if production will go back to pre-civil war levels, but the medicinal legalization is a brave step in a region famous for religious fundamentalism and strict drug prohibition

    G13 Club is a private social club for medical and recreational cannabis users based in Barcelona. It is also a space for musical and artistic development that promotes a multitude of activities focused on the expression and exhibition of urban, hip hop, reggae and skate culture.

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