Morocco considers legalisation of cannabis
With cannabis reform sweeping across the globe, Morocco is contemplating to join the movement. When you consider over 42% of the world’s hash comes from there, it is probably a good idea!
Marijuana is a major part of Moroccan culture and the life blood of many who live there. It only makes sense then that the government looks into ways of utilising it for the betterment of their country. Cannabis cultivation and export is a growing trade in Morocco, so much to the point where Party for Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), one of the major political parties of Morocco, has lead a hearing debating whether it could be legalised.
It is worth noting that Mulouda Hazib, the head of PAM’s parliamentary delegation, wanted to re-iterate that this was not a move to legalise the production of drugs, but an exploration as to how the law could be changed to both benefit the economy and create jobs centred on the medical and industrial use of cannabis.
Campaign to stop illegal trade
For the last decade, Moroccan authorities have been working hard to reduce the amount of land being used for the cultivation of cannabis. They report that through their work they have reduced it by 60%. However, there is still a gigantic amount of illegal trade taking place, and current policies do not seem to be effective at curtailing it.
Campaigners argue that through legalisation, a lot of illegal activity would be stopped, allowing farmers to sell legally to regulated bodies. However, the majority of money from the Moroccan cannabis trade stays in the pocket of organised crime, with farmers getting paid very little. Research also suggests that should cannabis cultivation be legalised, farmers would end up getting paid less selling through legal avenues than they did selling it illegally. So in order for it to become viable for farmers, the government will likely have to subsidize the price, as called for by Ahmed Benomar, the planning director of Morocco's agency for the promotion and development of the north. If this was done, it would effectively take the power out of the hands of organised crime.
How will it benefit the people?
Over 1 million of Morocco’s 23 million residents rely on the cannabis trade to make a living. It is a cash crop for famers in a country where soil quality is poor and not much else can grow. Cannabis plants tend to be extremely resilient to poor quality soil, giving farmers a reliable crop that they can depend on to put food on the table. However, with current law, Morocco has seen its cannabis farming areas reduce from 137,000 hectares in 2003, to only 47,000 in 2010 – making life extremely hard for the farmers who rely on it.
Also, according to the non-profit Moroccan Network for the Industrial and Medicinal Use of Marijuana, cannabis cultivation is currently worth 10 billion dollars’ worth of sales a year, accounting for 10 percent of Morocco’s economy. Should they make things harder, they will only be damaging themselves; whereas if cultivation was legalised, it could expand the economy and make the country stronger as a whole – reducing their trade deficit, which Bloomberg Businessweek reported reached a record high of 23 percent of GPD last year.
It seems like a no-brainer to us, let’s hope the Moroccan government feel the same way and take a leap to the forefront of the legalisation movement.