An Egyptian MP recently proposed a draft law which seeks to decriminalize cannabis, which would allow users to receive treatment rather than detainment.
The draft law also applies to users of tramadol, an opioid pain killer.
John Talaat, deputy governor of Cairo, announced the proposal this week, drawing mixed reactions from legislators in the country. Magdy al-Bassiouni, former assistant interior minister, explained that such a reform would result in a spike in drug users in the country, according to Al Araby.
Talaat is currently finalizing the draft law and will then send it to parliament on Oct. 21.
Currently, drug users in Egypt face a minimum of one year in jail and fine of at least 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($56.)
Talaat explained that the draft law is about "protecting young people and preserving their chances of a future," according to Al Araby.
In 2017, Egypt was listed among "places that smoke most hash" in the world
In April 2017, The Telegraph mapped out the world according to countries' consumption of cannabis, and Egypt made it to the list.
According to the report, Egypt came in at No. 25 out of 30 countries listed in the ranking, with 6.24 percent of its population regularly smoking the substance.
In 2015, the country's Tobacco Merchants Association in Cairo and Giza "submitted a proposal to the cabinet in order to legalize the trade and use of hash" (a drug made from cannabis,) arguing that the legislation would help "reduce the state budget deficit within a few years through imposing taxes on hash."
"Hash has been illegal in Egypt since the country signed the League of Nations’ Geneva International Convention on Narcotic Control in 1925," according to Egyptian Streets.
Legalizing cannabis and similar substances
In recent years, many countries around the world have been proposing changes to cannabis laws.
According to The Telegraph, "Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001 and within a decade substance abuse was reported to have halved - though that's not to say the dip in drug taking was directly down to the policy."
Uruguay has adopted a similar approach, legalizing marijuana in 2013.
This week, Canada legalized recreational marijuana, allowing adults to "possess, carry and share with other adults up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, enough to roll roughly 60 regular-size joints," according to The New York Times.
Egypt isn't the only Arab country. The legalization of cannabis is underway in Lebanon:
Earlier this year, Lebanese Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri announced that the legalization of the cultivation of cannabis for medical use is currently underway.
The plan comes as part of McKinsey & Co.'s roadmap to revitalize Lebanon's struggling economy, which would allow the country to grow cannabis and export it for medicinal treatments. The politician told Elizabeth Richard, the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, that the legalization process would be done in a similar manner to "many European countries and some U.S. states," The Daily Star reported.
Within the country, marijuana is most commonly consumed in its resin form, known as hashish. A 2016 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime listed Lebanon as one of the world's top five producers of cannabis resin.
Lebanon's caretaker Economy and Trade Minister Raed Khoury told Bloomberg News that legal marijuana could become a $1 billion industry in the country.