Legislation on culture in Morocco
On 26 May 2021, Moroccan MEPs passed a law authorizing the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The text on «the legal uses of cannabis, medical, cosmetic and industrial» was adopted by the House of Representatives with 119 votes out of 167. Recreational use, however, remains prohibited.
The world’s leading hashish producer is putting in place a bill following on from the first one, “converting environmentally destructive illicit crops into sustainable legal activities that generate value and employment”. by creating a national regulatory agency. Only the members of the Justice and Development Party voted against the bill since it could represent a risk of haste and exploitation during the election campaigns that will take place in September and October.
All this represents a real challenge for this country, declared the first producer of cannabis resin by the United Nations Office in 2020. Approximately 55,000 hectares were used for cannabis cultivation in 2019. The advantages that make Morocco the leader in the field are its adapted ecosystem, know-how imbued in the farmers' culture, and the proximity of a constantly changing market. According to a study released in 2020 by the independent network Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, resin production amounted to more than 700 tons per year with an estimated value of around €19 billion.
The possible law, therefore, provides for control of the entire production chain from import to marketing of the substance, to set up regulatory scopes as well as cooperatives of licensed farmers with certified plants and some control of the level of THC, the psychoactive molecule of resin.
The implementation of this law represents an enormous economic potential for Morocco. Indeed, small illegal farmers receive only 4% of the final turnover compared to potentially 12% in a legal market. This activity supports approximately 400,000 people. For them, this would be an opportunity for social reintegration, an improvement in their income as well as a development and expansion project. The farmers are still divided, some have the hope of an economic opportunity and legality, others question the level of control they will be subject to and the sharing of gains.
It is the beginning of the end of a political and national taboo announcing many prospects of expansion.