Cannabis has been grown in Morocco for centuries, primarily for medicinal and religious purposes. However, in the 1970s, the Moroccan government enacted laws to combat drug use, making cannabis cultivation, possession, and use illegal. Despite the legal restrictions, cannabis production has persisted and thrived, particularly in the Rif Mountains, where approximately 90% of the country’s cannabis is produced.
If cannabis remains illegal for recreational purposes in Morocco, there have been significant developments in the legal framework regarding cannabis cultivation for medical, industrial, and export purposes. In May 2023, the Moroccan government initiated the country’s first legal growing season for cannabis, allowing farmers in specific regions to cultivate cannabis for these authorized purposes.
The recent changes in the law aim to benefit impoverished farmers in the northern mountainous regions, where cannabis cultivation has been a significant source of income for many. The legalization of cannabis cultivation for medical, industrial, and export purposes is expected to provide farmers with a legal market to sell their products. This move also aims to curb the influence of the illegal market and promote economic development in the region.
The legalization of cannabis cultivation offers new opportunities for farmers in Morocco. The legal market is expected to provide farmers with higher incomes compared to the illegal market. By participating in the legal cannabis industry, farmers can access regulated channels and potentially benefit from value-added activities such as processing and exporting cannabis products. This shift toward legality also offers the potential for improved working conditions and increased investment in infrastructure.
While the legal cultivation of cannabis has been introduced, it’s important to note that recreational use and cultivation of cannabis for personal purposes remain illegal. Moroccan law enforcement agencies continue to enforce penalties for cannabis-related offenses, although the enforcement can be inconsistent. The penalties for violating cannabis laws in Morocco can be severe, including fines and imprisonment.
Morocco’s recent steps toward legalizing cannabis cultivation for medical, industrial, and export purposes mark a significant shift in the country’s approach to cannabis regulation. While recreational use and cultivation remain illegal, the legalization of cannabis for authorized purposes offers new opportunities for farmers and the cannabis industry. As the legal market develops, it is essential to ensure a well-regulated framework that promotes economic growth, safeguards public health, and addresses the challenges associated with the illegal market.