With Morocco legalizing marijuana, a lot of new developments are expected. Let’s take a look at what that means and what the future might look like.
Some described it as a move in the right direction for the African country. Others have pressing questions about the actual impact of the legislation.
In this article, we will take an objective look at the legalization of marijuana in Morocco. And try to understand what it actually means.
This article will cover
The history of marijuana in Morocco
Morocco’s position in the global marijuana market
Events and causes that led to legalization of marijuana
The positive side of the movement
Possible problems that may arise as a result of this step
The history of marijuana in Morocco
cannabis It has been cultivated in Morocco for centuries. The majority of production takes place in the mountainous Rif region of northern Morocco. Morocco is the largest producer of hashish (a product made from the flower of the cannabis plant).
Hemp growing area in Morocco
Historians are unclear about when and how marijuana was introduced in Morocco. But here’s a quick timeline for the plant’s production and use in the country.
16th century – Hemp was grown nationwide. It was cultivated on a small scale in gardens and orchards for local use.
18th century – The mountainous countryside in the north has become the central hub of cannabis cultivation. This continues until now.
1890 Sultan Hassan I put strict regulations on agriculture and trade. However, many Rif tribes were given the privilege to continue to produce cannabis.
fifties The rights of the rural tribes to grow cannabis were affirmed.
1956 Morocco gained its independence. King Mohammed V placed a national ban on the cultivation and cannabis use.
It is important to note here that while marijuana has been illegal in the country, it has been tolerated in the rural area.
The sixties and seventies Many young Western travelers have created a huge demand for marijuana in the country. This resulted in farmers moving from artisanal methods of farming to large-scale farming techniques.
1974 A comprehensive ban on the drug was issued, reaffirming the fate of marijuana.
Since then, there have been many discussions and debates (mostly in a calm tone) about legalizing and marijuana decriminalization in the country.
The Efforts of various parties and parties Finally impacted on March 11, 2021.
What does legalizing marijuana actually mean?
Organic Law 13.21 legalizes marijuana for industrial, medical, and cosmetic purposes. Recreational use is still illegal. The cultivation of the hemp crop is also illegal in the entire country.
The legislation limits production in six counties located in the rural area. The counties include:
A special agency will also be created. It will oversee all aspects of the cannabis industry in the country including licensing. The agency will include experts nominated by the prime minister and the ministries of health and agriculture.
The basic requirements for obtaining a permit to produce cannabis will be as follows:
Land Ownership. (or permission from the land owner)
Association with cooperatives.
Morocco’s position in the global marijuana market
Morocco is a major player in the field of “fun” all over the world.
The Rif Mountain Range provides viability for marijuana cultivation. Moreover, it is not possible to cultivate much economically in the mountainous terrain. Thus, the cities of Chefchaouen and Ketama became a center for cannabis tourism. Cannabis Tours, although not advertised is promoted by word of mouth. These serve as a supplemental income source for official tour guides.
The crop, often called green gold, supports more than 90,000 families With a stable source of income. Although estimates are likely to be low and the actual numbers may be much higher.
Here’s what the numbers tell us about Moroccan marijuana industry.
In the period 2002-2010, Morocco ranked first in the production of cannabis in the world.
2003 data indicate that Morocco was the source of 70% of the cannabis consumed in Europe. According to a United Nations study, 134,000 Hectares of Moroccan land were planted with cannabis. The turnover in 2003 and 2004 was about $15 billion and $13 billion, respectively.
Production declined dramatically in 2007 with the “Cannabis-Free Boycotts Campaign”.
In 2010, Morocco produced 760 tons of cannabis resin.
Morocco was the world’s largest supplier of cannabis, according to 2016 reports.
Cultivated area hemp resin In Morocco he can be around 47,000 hectares In 2017. The country’s cannabis resin market was valued at $9 billion that year.
In 2021, hemp was planted on 73,000 hectares of Moroccan land.
Events that led to the legalization of marijuana
The government has historically known that only hemp can be grown in the Rif Mountains. And the cannabis exports To Europe Tourists visiting from European countries are the only consistent source of employment in that region.
Hemp fields in the countryside 1983
This prompted the authorities to turn a blind eye to the small farmers involved in the cannabis production business.
However, efforts to legalize marijuana in Morocco are not recent. Even as agriculture was allowed in the rural area, many people and parties advocated the rationing of the crop that could give a huge boost to the economy.
In 2009, Fouad Ali El Himma, a prominent Moroccan politician, suggested renaming hashish. Rather than a dangerous drug with worrisome effects on consumers, he wanted to promote cannabis as a traditional Moroccan herbal remedy.
He received multiparty support for this and even called for a national debate on the matter. Fouad Ali El Himma’s motive was to reduce the prosecution of farmers who had been found guilty in matters related to the cultivation of cannabis.
In 2014, the Party of Authenticity and Modernity proposed that a law be drafted that would license and regulate cannabis growers. Recreational consumption was still illegal. This was in an effort to ensure that the cannabis produced in the country is used for legitimate medicinal and industrial purposes and not in vain smuggling for recreational use.
However, these proposals did not produce a positive result. That’s because the case was usually on the part of the opposition. In an effort to win the support of voters in cannabis-growing areas.
However, when Morocco attended the meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Austria, things began to change in December 2020. Morocco was the only country from the African region that supported the World Health Organization’s proposal to reclassify cannabis to make it available for medical use and research. The UN proposal passed by a narrow margin.
This proves that the proposal this time was coming from the government which was backed by the royal family.
Thus, in April, Moroccan Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit introduced a bill on the legalization of cannabis in Parliament.
On March 11, 2021, the Moroccan government ratified the bill. On May 26, 2021, the bill was put to a vote in Parliament and the medical, industrial and cosmetic use of cannabis was legalized. However, recreational use of marijuana remains illegal.
Subsequently, the House of Councilors made further amendments to the law, which were confirmed again on June 16, 2021.
Pros of legalizing marijuana in Morocco
Marijuana has been increasingly promoted around the world. Moroccan hemp farmers have taken advantage of this opportunity. Although the lack of legal channels to access global markets left them no choice but to rely on drug cartels and smugglers.
More than 16,000 farmers have also been convicted in absentia for their participation in the cultivation of cannabis. This negatively affected their social status as well as the lives of their children.
Legalization would change that. While the law does not expressly provide any relief for convicted farmers, there is hope. Political experts believe the king will grant them amnesty because one of the law’s goals is to disengage farmers from illegal cartels and smugglers.
The monopoly of drug lords on the cannabis industry in Morocco for more than 70 years will be breached for the first time.
This step will also have significant economic benefits for Morocco.
The global cannabis industry is expected to reach $69 billion by 2027. With the legalization of marijuana in Morocco, large foreign reserves can be directed into the economy without smugglers and drug dealers taking massive cuts.
Some feasibility studies have also indicated that farmers will be able to double their incomes once drug dealers are out of the picture.
Moreover, many countries, especially in Europe, are promoting cannabis research. If the market thrives there, the Moroccan cannabis industry will flourish directly due to its proximity to Europe.
Other expected benefits include a reduction in environmental damage due to the cessation of illegal farming activities. The move will also enhance trust between the local population in the Rif area and the authorities. Thus, development projects are easier to implement.
Problems associated with the legalization of marijuana in Morocco
While this step is largely beneficial, some points of concern remain open to discussion. The first is taxes. With legalization, comes the tax burden. Many believe that the tax on hemp cultivation, along with inflationary pressure, will make cannabis growers worse than before.
Others question whether the legal medical and industrial market will be enough to replace the illegal recreational use market. If not, many farmers will have to work in gray areas and criminal networks will continue to thrive
The effects of legalization have not yet appeared. However, the Moroccan government will have to take the necessary steps by taking advantage of international markets and protecting cannabis growers to see the positive effects outweigh the negatives.