The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ranked Lebanon in 2011 as one of the world's top five sources of cannabis resin (hashish). Shamseddine said official figures indicate the total area of cannabis planted has remained constant over the last three years at around 35,000 dunams. That's up from 11,000 in 2010, the year before revolution broke out in Syria, and Lebanon starting slipping back into domestic unrest.
Eradication in the Bekaa was clearly contributing to that unrest by angering cannabis farmers. Reuters notes veteran Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's proposals to legalize cannabis cultivation for medicinal use (although he improbably insists he's never smoked the stuff himself).
Damascus cooperated with Lebanon's government in eradicating cannabis during Syria's 29-year military occupation of the Bekaa Valley, which ended in 2005. But it continued to cultivate proxy militias in the Bekaa, principally among the Shi'ite villagers. Since 2005, the militant Sunni networks that bitterly oppose the Damascus regime have presumably established a greater foothold in the valley. The stage seems set for a replay of the 1980s, when rival militias contested for control of the valley and its hashish (and opium) lucre as they key to money, guns and political power. This, of course, is what prompted Syria to intervene and occupy the valley in the first place in 1976. The Bekaa Valley could well be the flashpoint for a wider regional war in the Middle East.