Disturbing Christian Cult Leader Sends Innocent Women to Mental Asylum

This is disgusting on so many levels, it hurts.

1- Delusional Cult Leader

Ok, religion all in all is a group of delusions, but this guy has got a particularly terrible case of them. He thinks the “Virgin Mary” is “inside him”, and has somehow managed to brainwash the faithful in his town, including the clergy, into playing along with his delusions.

2- Delusions Turn into Sexual Assault

Having the “Virgin Mary” inside him wasn’t enough for the cult leader, he wanted to be inside another woman, and what better way than to invoke sanctity and being inhabited by the “Virgin Mary”. That’s when Helene Abi Nader decided to go to the cult leader, in desperate hopes he might heal her “uterine problems”. Of course, the cult leader forcibly insisted that his hand should be the one to massage the holy oil into Helen’s private parts.

Be stupid and delusional all you want, that’s your own problem, but when your delusions become a power roller-coaster where you abuse people’s naivety and force yourself upon them, shielding yourself with words of God or whatever other delusion, is not ok. Never will be no matter what imaginary friend you have inside you.

3- Church and Government Condoning This

Since when the fuck did someone “asking” the government to put someone in Der El Saleeb, all it takes to do that? Yalla, start calling 112 and asking them to put your annoying parents and boyfriends in Der El Saleeb, mnetsalla kilna, why do through due process, legal proceedings, actual check-ups by professionals… Let’s just skip to forcibly injecting an abused woman with a cocktail of unknown drugs because some fucking lunatic decided she was the crazy one because she didn’t accept him sexually abusing her.

The Maronite church’s response was a memo… After mobilizing entire government bodies to “capture Satanists” (which we have yet to find!) and cracking down violently on “slutty nun costumes” and assaulting people shedding light on pedophile priests, the church seemed very disinterested in putting down this “descent”, if it could be called that, and allowed its clergy to be part of this harmful farce.

4- Release Helene, Prosecute the Cult Leader

Inno, it’s like watching a damn sarcastic comedy, where the crazy bastard who thinks a god lives inside him, gets to decide who is mentally disturbed or not… Really? ReallyyyyY?!

And stop using the excuse of “holiness” to protect child and sexual abuse. I don’t care how holy you are, if you start forcibly touching people’s peepees, you better damn spend your days behind bars, not altars and cults.

A Friendly Post to Muslims About Ramadan

I’m a very outspoken, irreverent atheist. This makes a lot of people dislike me, and I don’t have a problem with that. I am wholeheartedly convinced religion is not only wrong, but very detrimental to our lives and humanity’s progress. However, please put this aside for this post, and I promise I’ll be as respectful as possible.

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The Abra Memo

This memo made my heart ache. For a municipality to violate the constitution, and its jurisdiction, and issue a memo banning non-Muslims and non-practicing Muslims from “eating in public”, was painful. What was even more painful, is how people twisted it as a “good-will” move that demonstrates how tolerant Lebanese people are, and how coexistence is working between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Really though? Do you really think a move of good-will should be imposed by a municipality? Do you really think a Christian that wants to respect his Muslim friend and not eat a popsicle in the sweltering heat in front of him, was waiting for a municipality memo written by a Christian chief whose hand was forced by a Muslim Sunni mufti? How is that good-will? How is that a choice? How was that respecting coexistence?

It’s good that the municipality chief recanted this shameful memo. It’s a clear victory for the liberal voices in Lebanon, often drowned-out by extremist religious conservative bombings, the violent opposition of Muslim leaders to laws that protect women’s rights and other disgraceful acts fueled by archaic religious beliefs exacerbated by inadequate education and the ever-present existential threats sects feel in Lebanon that makes the religious turn into evil.

Here I’d like to thank Stop Cultural Terrorism, BlogBaladi.com, Trella.org and Joe Maalouf’s 7ki Jelis for the attention they brought to the Abra issue, and helped through public opinion, reverse this shameful memo.

Other Attempts to Oppress People’s Choice

Abra’s got a lot of attention, but many others do not. It is very important this Ramadan that we all stay vigilant to these attempts to put down Lebanese people’s choice to do whatever they want under the law. If a place tries to impose such a religious law, it’s important we shed light on that, and show them we are not happy about this.

Some might say, “so what, it’s just for a month”, but as we’ve already seen in the Hamra example, where Zaatar w Zeit was forced to abandon bacon and beer because their landlord is a religious extremist. This is a dangerous phenomenon, one that should never get traction in liberal Lebanon, the one thing that makes Lebanon stand out from other Arab countries, the one trait that makes Lebanon the crown jewel of the conservative Arab countries.

So, please, if you believe in choice, and coexistence, discourage places and areas that force you to do something you don’t want to. Don’t go there. Don’t pay your money in support of religious extremism. Celebrate the difference, and sanctify the right to choose. Pay your money to Islamic charities if you are feeling charitable, but don’t pay a bill at a restaurant that doesn’t give you the choice to do what you want.

To My Conservative Muslim Readers

As a libertarian, I wholeheartedly respect whatever you want to do in line with your faith. It’s your absolute right, and no matter what I think of it, it’s your holy right to do it. BUT, forcing it upon others will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be acceptable.

If you want to fast, do so yourself, don’t force anyone else to. If your faith in your beliefs is strong enough, you won’t mind seeing someone else eat in front of you. I’m sure you can muster up enough will to keep to your beliefs. Forcing people to do what you want, shows that you are too weak to resist temptation, and that reflects very negatively on your faith. So, please, keep your faith to yourself, be proud of it, show it off, but don’t ever commit the transgression of imposing your beliefs on others, and have the nerve to call it coexistence, when it wasn’t a willing choice.

Some Last Words

Religious freedom is an absolute right in Lebanon. This means that your right to practice your religion is untouchable. It also means that your right to not to, is also untouchable. At a time when religious conservatives are ruining the country, with clashes all over the nation, suicide bombings every other day, executions with no trial and other horrible, horrible things, you must stand with what little human rights and liberal ideals we still have.

Abra was won, but Tripoli has already fallen. A similar, more forceful memo has been issued, in a city that has already suffered for decades from the tyranny of religious conservatives. This is saddening. And it feels hopeless in a city so polarized religiously, that disobeying this memo would put people’s lives in danger…

No one can tell you when can eat and when you can’t. No one can tell you you can’t protect the rights of your mom, sister, wife, girlfriend or friend. No one can tell you you can’t marry the love of your life because she worships another god. You are a free person, with individual rights that can never be robbed. Fight for them. Fight the good fight, not with bombs and suicide vests and intolerant memos and opposing fair laws, but peacefully and rationally.

Happy Ramadan!

Nouwweb by SMEX and Lamba Labs: For a More #OpenLeb

Access to information is extremely hard and tricky in Lebanon. We don’t even know which MP voted for what, much less how to get in touch with them.

The guys and gals at SMEX and Lamba Labs have started an online tool that will hopefully snowball into the kind of information we demand becomes available, and is our right as Lebanese taxpayers.

The usual scenario is, if you tell your friend “General X has stolen so much money”, his answer will usually be, “Well, so has Dr. Y”. It’s an endless circle jerk with no real effect on political decisions and attitudes. But, if I can show you what, how, when, etc. You probably won’t defend the corrupt and wrong so easily anymore.

That is the plan eventually, for now, Nouwweb is making the MPs in Lebanon more accessible to us, the voters. It includes information about their districts, sects as well as contact information including cellphones when available and social network accounts.

Here’s an example:Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 4.26.31 PM

 

Check out the website here.

Actions by Pro-Assad Syrians in Lebanon Today Were Unacceptable

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Today was a dangerous, disgraceful, distasteful, rude, disruptive and ungrateful display by the tens of thousands of alleged “refugees” on one of Lebanon’s main thoroughfares and areas.

1- Ungrateful and Hypocritical

Lebanon has been the absolute most generous host of Syrian refugees around the world. Almost 2 million Syrian citizens flood Lebanese territories. Despite minor racist slogans and banners, the overall hospitality has been unprecedented.

The fact that these people who are seeking refuge on Lebanese territory blatantly violated a ministerial decree banning such political rallies and blocked the international highway into the Lebanese capital, was disrespectful, ungrateful and scary.

Personally, I believe every single person who came out to vote today and blocked the streets, needs to be considered a persona-non-grata, an unwelcome person in Lebanon, including the Syrian ambassador.

2- Shameful

The Syrian regime has done everything to obstruct relief efforts in Lebanon. Syrians are terrified to register with the UNHCR for fear of retribution when they get back home. Logistically, the Syrian government has done nothing to aid its citizens seeking refuge in Lebanon.

However, the regime had no problem pulling off a logistical feat by getting buses and organizing elections on a scale that makes the March 8 and 14 2005 logistical preps pale in comparison. What a hypocritical stance… Not lifting a finger to aid refugees, but making sure the logistics of this charade are pulled off perfectly. For shame.

3- Unacceptable

Bashar Assad’s regime is one that caused Lebanon and the Lebanese unparalleled pain and suffering for over 3 decades. Tens of thousands of Lebanese people were butchered, imprisoned and kidnapped, and thousands more remain in Assad’s notorious prisons. To see tens of thousands of people so disrespectfully and provocatively insult the families of the victims of Assad’s barbaric regime, was both unacceptable and scary, and I’m glad Lebanese folks kept their cool and didn’t get provoked by this disgusting display of force and defiance.

4- A Resounding Message to March 14

March 14 has always felt that the Syrian refugees are mostly anti-Assad, and hence had no problem with the lax security and maintenance as to the refugee crisis. I believe the March 14 bloc should reconsider their positions, and push forward for refugee camps on the border regions that are better controlled and maintained.

5- Go Home Pro and Anti-Assad Supporters

Lebanon welcomes civilians seeking refuge, not disturbers of the peace and militants. Every militant or activist that broke the law today and closed the streets, is unwelcome in Lebanon.

6- Step-up Government

Eject every single disturber of peace that participated in this fiasco today. If they feel this confident and safe with the murderous Assad regime, then they’re more than welcome to go back to the territories he controls. But, for them to abuse the hospitality of the Lebanese people and government, who has suffered enough from Assad and his troops, is a point no Lebanese person can accept, regardless of the narrow political mindsets. Also, make sure the roads stay open tomorrow for the second day, no matter what.

7- For Peaceful Refugees

We have been your closest friends for 3 years now, and we have done the absolute most to help whichever way we can. This post is not aimed at you, it’s aimed at the questionable behavior today that many if not most Lebanese are not OK with. Please don’t take this as an attack on you, we know your safety is in danger back home, and we welcome you with open arms and homes till the day things better in Syria. However, please keep Syrian politics out of Lebanon, and help us maintain what semblance of a functional country we have managed to pull off.

Comments on the Rai Visit to Jerusalem

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The recent uproar about the Maronite Patriarch’s visit to the Palestinian territories is yet another installment of the painfully hypocritical ideological stances political and religious figures in Lebanon take.  Before we begin, let me be clear this is no way an endorsement of the Maronite church and its patriarchy, just common sense.

The critics of this trip cite their mortal enmity with Israel as the reason the Patriarch shouldn’t accompany the Catholic Pontiff to the Holy Lands of that faith. Here though, I want to remind those critics that the Maronite church has an archdiocese there. There are Maronites there, and just like Rai visits Mexico and the States and Cyprus to check up on his “flock”, why should Palestine be any different?

Don’t you all agree that what religious figures do is above the “law” and what applies to normal folks doesn’t apply to the ones that don a black robe and shiny bling bling? Remember when muslim religious leaders went absolute ape shit over the law to stop men from beating and raping and killing their wives? Remember when they resolutely stood against popular demand to allow civil marriage on Lebanese soil? What was that? How is a religious figure allowed to change the whole policy of a nation? Disobeying the will of its educated youth, for their archaic means of making money while not giving back any in taxes?

I know these two examples aren’t really comparable, but the point I’m trying to make, is that the very same people hiding behind their ideologies, take the liberty to do what a sizable part of the Lebanese population considers horrendous, and they get away with it. Personally, visiting his faithful parishes in Palestine is a far less grievous crime than sanctifying butchering women and encouraging division by barring civil marriage for immensely idiotic reasons like “it’s an Israeli conspiracy” or “we wouldn’t be able to control our women”.

So, respectfully, spare us the emotional blackmail we’ve grown accustomed to ignoring. Murderers of women and the youth’s dreams have no say in what another religious figure can and cannot do. If anything, it’s the smartest thing he’s doing in the wider anti-naturalization movement. Instead of being scared silly and hiding away in big halls built with your money, he’s actually going there and making a statement. Proving Israeli authorities cannot control this religiously driven visit, breaking the self-imposed ban we’ve maintained on ourselves from visiting Palestine.

I for one would love to visit a land only a couple of hours away from where I live, but that doesn’t mean I support Israel. If anything, it’s supporting the sovereignty of a Palestinian state we all aspire for, visiting them and sitting with them and performing religious rites there. Sure beats censoring movies because their director is Jewish, don’t you think? What’s sad though, is that the Patriarch can go because he’s a religious figure, but you and me cannot. Another example of how sectarian control of our daily lives is an inconvenience to our progress as a nation trying hard to break free from the civil war days which never really left us…

So, if you want to condemn the patriarch for this visit, I’m not really gonna take you seriously unless you condemn the muslim religious leaders whose crimes lead to the abuse, torture and death of Lebanese people every day of every year. But, you overlook that human rights abuse and encroachment of mosque on government, you know, cause they say they hate Israel in public and do nothing about it in reality. Oh, and when Ahmedinajad was lecturing in universities in New York, why didn’t you feel offended? Why wasn’t this as unacceptable as the Rai visit?

Hypocrites.

Cowardly Parliament Paralyzes Capital Every Week for Theatrics

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If you see this photo, and the roads closed on a 2-kilometer radius, you’d think that Lebanon was at war and suffering from an invasion, necessitating the barricading of parliament in such a desperate manner.

This is something no one addresses, but it’s something thousands of us suffer from every single week. It might seem as something trivial, but being stuck in traffic for hours because illegitimate MPs want to go get a photo opp to pedal the BS even they don’t believe anymore, is unacceptable. These MPs’ salaries are paid by you guys, so is the salary of the police officer that stops you forcibly when the green light turns on because some political prick is going to parade his black SUV convoy in front of you, and the police officer has the nerve to say: “it’s for your safety and security”. HAHAHAHAHAHA! assholes.

The Security Excuse

It’s not my problem. It’s not your problem. It’s their problem. I don’t have to go through that because a politician thinks their life is in danger. That’s their fault, their responsibility, and we shouldn’t pay for that ourselves. The saddest part is, they’re not doing anything. If they were actually legislating proper laws, one would shut up about this inconvenience, but all they do is mangle and maim laws we want to see, or waste time joking and frolicking around the halls of the parliament your tax liras rebuilt for these clowns to kill a few hours in.

If it’s really that much of a concern, let them sit in their fortified castles and teleconference to parliament. Heik heik they’re doing nothing there, why waste their time and ours? Just let them Skype their rehearsed lines of bullcrap via VoIP, maybe it’ll push Boutros Harb to actually improve our Internet, which has severely deteriorated in the last two months for some unknown reason when it was expected to get better…

They Serve You, Not The Other Way Round

I know many of you might consider yourself slaves to the MPs you vote for, but even if they pave the road to your home or pay your hospital bill, you’re paying their inflated salaries so they can refuse to raise yours. You also pay the salaries of the personal armies each MPs feels entitled to, to help intimidate and humiliate the average Lebanese citizen so that an MP can go have dinner and a drink somewhere. Disgusting.

23od bi baytak habibeh, manna mishkletna.

A Kind Request to Parliament

Keep the roads open. Stop inflating yourselves to levels you don’t deserve. No one cares about you. No one cares about your cars. And if they did, a piece of barbed wire won’t stop them. So, stop the theatrics that ruin people’s days and stick to trying to find a spine while you’re at it, you know, so maybe you can actually vote without a check from a foreign bank in your other hand. Who knows, miracles can happen!

My Thoughts on the STL Summoning Lebanese Journalists

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First Don’t Like Al Jadeed or Al Akhbar

Before the March 14 fangirls and boys start whining that I am pro-this and anti-that, let me assure you to me, they’re both equally smelly bags of diseased crap (March 8 and March 14).

I am not a fan of Ibrahim Al Amin’s writings, which is basically a rude mouthpiece for Hezbollah. I am not very familiar with Khayat’s work, but I assume it goes in line with the often melodramatic, confused stances Al Jadeed takes (sometimes ultra-liberal, others ultra-conservative and disgustingly intolerant).

However, a motto I live by religiously, is Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s, when she was summarizing Voltaire’s school of thought:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

Freedom Comes Before Justice

Too often we’re told to give up our rights and freedoms for the sake of security, stability and “justice”. Whether it’s Hezbollah asking its popular base to give up their rights for the sake of fighting Israel, or takfiris, or whatever the trend is in scaremongering people, it’s unacceptable. Just like the anti-Hezbollah talking heads on TV justify their ineptitude and corruption, by blaming it on Hezbollah’s power and arms.

Stop selling us that cheap, dirty talk. I’ll quote Mashrou’ Leila here (which I don’t think I’ll ever do again)

“bass tetjarra2 bi soo2al, 3an tadahwor el a7wal, bi saktook bshi3arat, 3an kol el mo2amarat”

“khawwanook bil 2atee3, kil ma talabet bteghyeer, el watan”

“ya2asook 7ata tbee3, 7oriyetak ta ma ydee3, el watan”

So I don’t care if the court is investigating my own murder, never, ever should it punish or oppress anyone other than a suspect convicted beyond any reasonable doubt.

Mockery of a Fundamental Right

Watching former Syrian bootlickers gather to “support” free speech today, was adding insult to injury. The same people who put their paws up and laid on their back to have the Assad regime scratch their fat bellies in return for their complete and utter loyalty with no regards to Lebanon’s and the Lebanese people’s interest, was nauseating. What was also nauseating, is that media outlets on the payroll of pro-STL politicians like Future TV and MTV took a stand against this action, for the pure sake of politics-as-usual and the painfully shortsighted tit-for-tat game, without realizing that MTV and Future have both suffered unjustly under the hand of corrupt justice and violent vigilante justice (MTV’s closure in the early 2000s, and Future TV’s torching by pro-Hezbollah thugs on May 7).

First Amendment Reflection + WikiLeaks Example

For champions of the “burn them at the stake” stance that use the excuse that what the journalists published was “hurtful” to Lebanon and the STL, I give them the WikiLeaks example. The hundreds of thousands of cables were extremely damaging to the US and its foreign relations. It also arguably endangered many people’s lives in the process. But, the United States never took action against a publication or news outlet that published these classified documents that often had to do with national security issues. It’s even had trouble indicting Julian Assange, using silly trumped up charges of sexual assault to try and capture him, instead of the actual act of leaking state secrets.

The person who did get punished though, was Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, the US soldier who leaked the cables to WikiLeaks. Now, I don’t think punishing her so harshly was fair, and I don’t want to see her spend most of her life behind bars, but Chelsea knew the risk she was taking as a government employee, and the laws she broke that eventually got her convicted for violating the Espionage Act.

Now, here I draw the comparison between these two cases. Many people suggest the source of the names published by these journalists were stolen by a pro-Hezbollah mob from the team of investigators on a visit to Beirut’s Southern Suburbs. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but when you send STL investigators to a staunchly hostile area with sensitive information on them and with basically no security, what else would you expect? If anyone should be summoned, it’s the STL people behind that blunder, which effectively delivered secret information to Hezbollah, which the four suspects indicted by the STL belong to. These are the people to blame for this “obstruction of justice”, not the journalists (even if their intention was malicious, given Al Amin’s track record).

In Conclusion

I don’t approve of what the journalists did. But, I was horrified by the police-state like summons of the STL. When given the choice between petty politics and fundamental rights, I’ll always choose the latter, always. I think the journalists should disobey the STL and refuse the summons (even via tele-conferencing). As for the threats to the witnesses lives, that ship sailed the second Hezbollah allegedly got its hands on the sensitive data on the stolen laptops, not when the names were published. So, preying on hired pens is sad, and the real people liable should be the ones being summoned. Here, I want to salute LBC for taking the same stance, regardless of the politics. Pierre El Daher definitely doesn’t belong with the rabble that came together today, but he and LBC did what’s right, and I’m doing the same.

I write this in my capacity as a Lebanese taxpayer, whose tax liras fund the STL. I have every right to comment, just like each and every one of you who pay your taxes at the gas pump, your cellphone bills and the 10% VAT do…

Peace.

Lebanon’s Female Police Officers

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You’ve definitely seen the dashing ladies in gray camouflage uniforms roaming Beirut’s streets with automatic machine guns. What I find surprising, is how little we know about them.

I for one, am thrilled that women can now join our 150-year-old police force. In a country where women still lack many of their most basic human and civil rights, seeing them empowered in law enforcement can do nothing but help the struggle for gender equality in Lebanon.

Under the leadership of now justice minister General Ashraf Rifi, women were finally allowed to enlist in Lebanon’s police force (it’s important to note here that women have been part of the Lebanese Army for decades, but in non-combatant, mostly administrative posts). What’s astonishing is a whopping 10,000 applications were submitted, and 553 young women were selected to undergo training and join active duty in Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF).

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Over half of those 553 women (73 of which are high-ranking officers) are college educated, a far cry from the majority of ISF officers that are unfortunately often lacking in education, and resort to wearing the uniform as a last option for steady employment. They undergo the same exact training as their male counterparts, and serve alongside men in precincts across Lebanon.

All in all, I think it’s a fantastic decision, and I look forward to seeing more ladies in uniform on our streets, in hopes this perfect example of empowerment and gender equality metastasizes into laws that protect women from domestic violence, allow civil marriage in Lebanon and grant mothers the right to pass down their Lebanese citizenship. I also hope it’ll change the archaic mentalities that women are inferior, or less capable than men in our patriarchal society, and show more conservative folks that woman and men are equal, and that gender should never be an issue in determining a person’s rights, duties and qualifications.

81% of Lebanese Think Premarital Sex is Unacceptable + More

MoralityPerhaps the most surprising one is that only 56% of Lebanese polled think abortion is unacceptable. The contraception use is at unacceptable for 13%, which is great in terms of sexual health. As for infidelity, a whopping 92% consider it unacceptable.

The alarming ones are those of homosexuality and premarital sex, both in the 80-81% unacceptable mark. Hopefully, with the rising civil rights movement, homosexuality will become more of an accepted reality than an archaic morality issue, as for the premarital sex one, I’m sure the sentiment doesn’t correspond to the reality, but more to the taboo of being sexually active before marriage, especially for women in Lebanon’s heavily patriarchal society.

Here’s the source if you want to compare Lebanon to 40 other countries.

Ex-Tourism Minister: Legalize Marijuana and Prostitution

Finally. That’s the only think I could think of when I was reading this Daily Star article.

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I have been an advocate of legalization of both these activities in Lebanon for quite some time. Marijuana especially. I am very open about my pro-marijuana stance, and I’ve written about it and lobbied for it offline extensively. (11 Reasons Why Weed Needs to be Legal in Beirut, Poll: Are You For Legalizing Marijuana, Chocolate, Weed and Gym Freaks, and Vice News: Lebanon’s Hash Farms)

So, it’s a relief to see prominent politicians finally starting to address the issue directly. Abboud, like me, thinks that the most obvious reason to legalize these “sinful” activities, is because they’re already happening, a lot. Only difference is it’s by criminals, and the state isn’t making any money off of it.

At a time when the parliament is debating a tax hike to fund the wage hike (love the logic here by the way: give them more money over 5 years, but make everything more expensive now. Genius!). When they let off real criminals like companies and people who have built on public property: public beaches… Oh, and allow people to beat up kids a day after banning that because religious leaders put pressure…

Taxes from weed and prostitution can help the government offset the stealing and corruption by our MPs and non-elected officials. It’ll also cripple major crime rings that traffic in drugs and humans via, into or out of Lebanon. It’ll also make the lives of people who work in these illegal industries safer (mainly sex workers) and the products/services cheaper and at a quality (untainted marijuana, consenting adult sex workers, etc.)

I hope more politicians jump on the pro-weed band wagon. It seems the pro-pot camp has been successful in getting their voice heard and overcoming the misinformation and lies that have ruined so many lives over the past two decades for offenses as minor and harmless as smoking a joint… So, let’s keep the momentum going!