In 2002, cannabis cultivation dramatically reduced despite continued significant consumption; opium poppy cultivation minimized and the amount of Latin American cocaine and Southwest Asian heroin being transited through the region to European and Middle Eastern markets decreased. However, eradication campaigns often generate violent clashes as many farmers rely heavily on their annual crop production and promised development alternatives have failed to materialize and provide. Thus, the political unrest that weakened the central government during the war in 2006 with Israel gave rise once again to significant drug cultivation and production. However, the illicit industry remains limited to only Beqaa Valley, north of the town of Baalbek, where tribal rule of law still firmly protects the armed families of farmers. The region is fiercely protected by Hezbollah as well, whom occupy the area but firmly deny any involvement with the drug trade and claim to oppose it on moral grounds.
Since the invasion of Syrian forces under former President Hafez Assad during Lebanon’s civil war, Syrian troops have guarded the poppy and cannabis fields to prevent theft and ensure supplies are not sold to competing bidders. The Assad regimes, under both father and son, have utilized Lebanon as a drug paradise for decades. Reports from the U.S. State Department on terrorism financing have indicated that the Beqaa Valley continues to be a major source of funding to the current Assad regime, with Syrian troops still occupying the region even with the war in Syria raging on.