Skip to main content

Morocco: Cannabis farmers push for recreational legalisation

Morocco: Cannabis farmers, investors push legalisation for recreational use
3 min read
07 May, 2024
Cannabis farmers and investors are set to hold debates and seminars with MPs this year to lobby for a draft of recreational cannabis legalisation.
In April, Morocco exported its first batch of cannabis to Europe, three years after legalising the plant. [Getty]

In Morocco, cannabis investors and farmers are urging the government to explore the legalisation of the cannabis recreational market three years after the plant was partially legalised for export.

"In Morocco, it will be necessary to open a discussion because regulation for medical and industrial purposes will not eliminate the existing black market," said Shakib Al Khayari, coordinator of the Moroccan Coalition for Medical and Industrial Use of Cannabis.

This call came during visits to agricultural lands in the Rif region organised this week by the National Agency for the Regulation of Activities Related to Cannabis (ANRAC).

Live Story

After criminalising cannabis farming for six decades, in May 2021, the Moroccan parliament reversed course. It passed a law legalising the plant for pharmaceutical and industrial purposes, aiming to capitalise on the country's cannabis potential, estimated at US$15 billion.

However, Morocco has retained a strict ban on production for recreational use — a demand that is not going away, either in the country or internationally.

Thus, opportunities for traffickers persist, creating a shadow market that could drive the cost of recreational hash down, says Omar, a cannabis farmer in Bab Bered, near Chefchaouen.

"Some farmers do not trust the state plan, and they choose to continue selling their crops in the illegal market," added the cannabis farmer.

Rabat's vision is to capitalise on the country's potential and transform it from illicit trade into a sleek and streamlined operation in cooperation with farmers and pharmaceutical companies.

Without a detailed plan guaranteeing indigenous peoples equal financial benefits from the proceeds of the new enterprises, many farmers are rejecting the plan and opting to stay in the shadows.

Live Story

Last June, the Moroccan Coalition for Medical and Industrial Use of Cannabis launched a call for a public discussion on the recreational use of cannabis, citing the health benefits of smoking weed and the financial potential of a recreational market in the North African kingdom.

In collaboration with local cannabis farmers, the coalition is set to hold a series of debates and seminars with members of parliament this year to lobby for a favourable vote on a potential draft of recreational cannabis.

The United Nations drugs agency says about 47,000 hectares of the Rif region are devoted to cannabis output.

The first legal cannabis harvest in 2023, under the auspices of ANRAC, is estimated at 294 tonnes.

The harvest was made by 32 cooperatives that brought together 430 farmers covering 277 hectares in the northern Rif mountain areas of Al Houceima, Taounat, and Chefchaouen.

In April, Morocco exported its first batch of cannabis to Europe, three years after legalising the plant.

TNA contacted ANRAC to comment on the potential legalisation of the recreational market. By the time of publication, no one was available to address the issue.

Drug policy experts expect coexistence between the legal and illicit markets as long as Rabat shies away from the full legalisation of the plant.