By Emily Ledger
Morocco, the world’s top producer of ‘hashish’ is set to introduce medical cannabis legalisation. The government has ratified a draft law that would legalise the medical use of cannabis, however, the country’s parliament still needs to give its approval.
While the law would introduce the creation of a national regulatory agency for a new medical cannabis sector, recreational cannabis would remain illegal.
According to the draft legislation, the proposed law would “reconvert illicit” cannabis cultivation sites into “legal and durable activities that generate jobs”.
The move would help to launch the North African nation – that has long been considered one of the world’s top producers of illicit cannabis – into the growing global medical cannabis sector. The creation of a regulated market would mean that the government would begin to take control of the cannabis sector that has long been controlled by criminal drug traffickers.
A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that Morocco is the world’s top producer of ‘hashish’, or cannabis resin. Morocco is also believed to be Europe’s biggest cannabis supplier.
The north African country is also estimated to have produced more than 700 tonnes of cannabis in 2020 alone, according to a study by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime.
According to France24, around 55,000 hectares of land in the mountainous Rif region of the country were being used for illicit cannabis production in 2019. It is expected that such operations could be taken over by the legal medical cannabis market in the future.
Supporters of the reforms say that state regulation of cannabis would help to improve farmers’ living and working conditions and also help protect them against organised crime and drug trafficking groups.
The bill was approved by Morocco’s Cabinet on Thursday (March 12) following multiple delays. The proposed law will now be submitted to parliament. If it passes, Morocco will become one of the few countries in the region and in the Arab world to have legalised medical cannabis.
While many support the bill, including the Prime Minister, there are those – such as the powerful Islamist Justice and Development Party – who oppose it.
If the bill is passed by parliament, a new medical cannabis sector will be created in Morocco. The recreational use of cannabis will, however, remain illegal.