The Chamber of Representatives for the Parliament of Morocco has approved for good, the project from regulation 13.21, which regulates therapeutic and industrial use of cannabis in the Alaouite kingdom. The text, passed with 61 votes in favor and 25 against, according to Moroccan media Maroc Hebdo, it establishes a system of licenses for all activities related to cultivation, production, processing, transportation, commercialization, export and import of this plant, as well as its byproducts. It also considers, thanks to an amendment made at the Chamber of Representatives that producers can create cooperatives for cultivation, processing and industrialization of cannabis, explained by Moroccan newspaper Les Eco. Next steps are creating a regulating agency and the approval of different decrees of law execution. Recreational use remains banned, meaning that plants with more than 0.2% THC will stay illegal.
Morocco started bringing up legalizing medicinal cannabis in July 2020 due to some recommendations made by the WHO (World Health Organization). In 2014, two Parties were submitted to Parliament, projects for the legalization of medicinal and industrial use, unsuccessfully. Even before, in 2009, the main advisory of Mohamed VI, Fouad Ali El Himma, had already proposed celebrating a national debate about cannabis, aiming to rename it as “Traditional Moroccan Herbal Remedy” and not as a drug. The local strain of cannabis, called kif beldía (‘Weed from here’), is one of a kind worldwide because of its resistance to water shortage, even to severe droughts, without losing any of its psychoactive power. Nevertheless, during the past decade, foreign, European and mostly American strains have been imported, which are drying aquifers and desertifying entire areas.
The process which has currently led to the approval of the text, started in February thanks to an initiative taken by the Home Office, whose goal was « to leverage opportunities given by the global market, improve farmers’ income and protect them from drug trafficking ». This process has caused inner conflicts in the Justice and Development Party (PJD), the most important islamic formation in Morocco, that has the largest number of representatives in Parliament (125 out of 395). Anthropologist Jalid Muna, who has spent years investigating cannabis and religion, isn´t surprised that PJD approves this law project. “The project has been driven by the Home Office that belongs to Morocco’s deep State. And up until now, the PJD is part of the deep State’s circle”, added.
According to reports made from the Home Office related to this law project, medicinal cannabis market will increase its growth by 30% globally, and 60% in Europe, reaching business figures as big as 20.800 million euros in 2028. Is this last market that Home Office has referred to as the future destiny of Moroccan production of medicinal cannabis, especially in Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany. “Our goal is to evolve rapidly, because we are already delayed” states the Home secretary Abdeluaf Laftit, on the 29th of April, two weeks before the law´s approval. Home Office reports weigh up that Morocco could take between 10 and 15% of the European medicinal cannabis market, which would entail an income for the country between 3520 and 5280 million euros.
Legalization of medicinal cannabis in Morocco could mean an annual net income of 110.000 dirhams for each hectare (around 10.500 euros), which means more than 40% of the actual farming economic benefit in the country, as stated by media Les Eco. Since April this year, investments have already become noticeable in the region of Tanger-Tetuan-Alhucemas, and in certain areas like Ketama, the price for hectare has doubled itself in the last few weeks.
However, for good part of the farmers in the Rif area, where most of the country’s cannabis crops are, the law remain unfinished. During its processing, farmer associations alerted the actual law’s text, leave a lot of them without the possibility to get a license, because it requires the solicitant to own the land that will be dedicated to growing medicinal cannabis, or to be authorized by the landowner, but most farmers that have inherited their lands don´t have a property certificate, nor and owner that authorizes. They also warn about severe punishments contemplated for farmers that renege on regulations, they can face sentences from three months up to two years, while investors in the medicinal cannabis production chain will only face fines.
According to the last United Nations Global Report, published in 2020, Morocco remains the main country where seized cannabis from all over the world originates, gathering a fifth of the global total.