Iran’s parliament approved a bill that would allow Iranian citizens to purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana from private, state-licensed stores and cafés.
The proposed law taxes marijuana up to 25 percent. Commercial marijuana growers would need to apply for a permit from the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture.
Middle East experts say the proposed law is unusual for Iran, an Islamic theocracy that has been governed by a highly conservative clerical elite since 1979. Under Islamic law, the country strictly forbids alcohol and drug consumption.
Zagros Mountain High
But the law is endorsed by ultra-conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has championed the measure as a way to cut down on Iran’s prison population and to bring in extra revenue to the country, which has experienced a prolonged economic crisis because of economic mismanagement and international economic sanctions.
“Iran’s prisons are filled with thousands of people who have been arrested and imprisoned for possession of what is, quite frankly, a harmless plant,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told the state-run IRIB television. “It doesn’t make sense to spend our resources imprisoning such people when other serious crimes, such as the consumption of alcohol or women disobeying their husbands, are happening each day.”
Mr. Ahmadinejad said the measure will bring an important economic boost for the country’s agricultural sector and raise much-needed revenue for the state through the collection of permits and taxes.
“I was quite impressed when I visited the cannabis coffee shops in Amsterdam (Netherlands),” he said. “I thought, ‘Our country’s soils are quite suitable for the cultivation of marijuana, so why not grow it here and sell it in our coffee shops?’ The evil Western countries have made life in Iran difficult through the sanctions, so marijuana will help our people forget their troubles and relax.”
A Friend With Weed...
Mr. Ahmadinejad then touted the high quality of marijuana that is grown in Iran and indicated that it could compete on the international market.
“We have thousands of varieties of marijuana that can be grown in Iran that are just as good, if not better, than anything found in the Satanic West: Tehran Gold, Mohammad Jane, Persian Grass, Larijani Lotus and Tabriz Tobacco, just to name a few,” he said. “Have you ever tried the weeds they grow in Great Satan America? I tried it in college at Tehran University and wanted to puke.”
The proposed marijuana legalization bill still needs to be approved by the country’s ultra-conservative Guardian Council, which has to pass all legislation. However, state media reported that the Guardian Council supports the measure because it is a safer alternative to heroin and recreational sex - both major problems in Iran.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in the country, sees another fringe benefit:
"Long term use of marijuana has been linked to a lack of sexual desire in women," Ayatollah Khamenei said, “If we get our women high enough maybe we can cure them of their wicked sexual compulsions.”
The bill is set to be signed into law next week.