There is no denying that 2021 is a great year for cannabis all around the world. Legislative progress in favour of medical and industrial cannabis growing is on the rise in America and Europe. Many states of the U.S. have already legalised recreational use and compete against countries like Morocco in terms of producing resin and other cannabis derivatives. Prohibition in Morocco has been imposed since the country proclaimed its independence in 1956. Although cannabis is illegal, Morocco has been the world’s largest producer and exporter of hash and kif for decades.
Legal Growing in Morocco
In March this year, the Moroccan government introduced a bill to legalise cannabis growing for both medical and industrial purposes. This measure was planned by the Ministry of Home Affairs during Cabinet’s weekly meeting. After receiving the government’s approval, the bill must now be discussed on the floor of the House of Representatives before voting takes place and the bill is signed into law. Once passed by the Moroccan Parliament, this law will authorise certain farmers to grow cannabis under a licence issued by a state competent agency. This agency will be vested with the power to grant, revoke, or renew licences, and will also monitor cannabis stock and oversee producers.
Cannabis Cultivation—Industry’s Past and Present
Morocco is still the largest cannabis resin producer worldwide and supplies Western European and Northern African markets. Cannabis was first introduced in this region during the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb, started during the 7th century. Many Arab tribes settled in the Sanhaja region, Ketama, and the Rif, where they survived growing cannabis on a small scale.
On February 11th, in accordance with UN recommendations, the Moroccan National Committee on Narcotics removed cannabis from the list of substances that represent a serious threat: the first step on its way to establish a legal framework that allowed for the introduction of this bill—which is set to come into force soon. It is worth noting that none of this would have been possible without the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs first removing cannabis from a list of dangerous drugs in December, a decision that was approved by 27 out of 53 commission members—including Morocco voting in favour.
This bill seeks to seize the conveniences offered by the cannabis global market and also to improve farmers’ earning while protecting them from international drug-trafficking organisations. As other countries have increasingly opened up to this international market, the opportunity seemed inviting to a country that seeks to benefit as much as possible from regulated cannabis production.