The North African country of Morocco officially launched its legal cannabis industry this week by issuing the first 10 permits to produce cannabis. The Moroccan government legalized the regulated production and commercialization of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes last March, giving a limited stamp of approval to an industry that has flourished in the country for hundreds of years.
Under the law, farmers in the northern mountainous regions of Morocco who organize collectives will be gradually allowed to grow cannabis to meet the needs of the legal market. Abdelahfi Raftit, the interior minister of Morocco’s current monarchy, the Kingdom of Alawi, said legalizing cannabis was part of the government’s plan to create new “development opportunities”. local media coverage.
On Tuesday, the Cannabis Activity Regulation Agency (ANRAC), set up to regulate the newly legalized industry, issued the first 10 permits for cannabis cultivation and production. The agency also granted licenses to licensed companies to sell and export cannabis and cannabis derivatives for pharmaceutical, medical, and industrial purposes. The move is part of implementing last year’s Law 13-21 on the legal use of cannabis, according to a statement issued by ANRAC.
Under this plan, ANRAC will allow farmers to grow and process cannabis through a tightly regulated network of farming collectives. Approvals will be issued in phases at the state level in Al Hoceima, Chefchaouen and Taunate, depending on the needs of the legal cannabis market. ANRAC is working to expand the prospects of the legal cannabis market to promote growth across the sector and ease the transition to a regulated market for farmers who have been producing hashish for the illegal European market for generations. Said they were still investigating.
Will traditional Moroccan farmers benefit?
But farmers in Morocco’s Rif Mountains, where hashish has been grown on a large scale since at least the 18th century, fear the government’s crackdown on unlicensed production and the slow pace of issuing permits will result in missed opportunities. ing. Historically, the region has supplied approximately 70% of the hashish to the illicit European market. However, legalization efforts and domestic production in continental Europe could significantly reduce that market.
Suad, a cannabis farmer from Ajira village, said Moroccan cannabis farmers are unsure about their future and believe the government’s plans to legalize cannabis have not yielded any benefits yet.
“We are still attached to this plant, but it no longer gives us anything,” says Souad. told WION News.
“Nobody wants that anymore,” she added. “Our lives are hard right now.”
Now in her 60s, she still grows cannabis with her sons. She hopes legalization will help bring prosperity to her family and the marginalized Rif Mountains region, but her prospects for success are uncertain.
“If it’s serious, it’s good,” says Souad.
Morocco’s hashish market has dropped significantly as European cannabis reform efforts take hold. According to a 2021 Interior Ministry study, Moroccan farmers’ income from cannabis could rise from €500 million (about $490 million) a year in the early 21st century to €325 million (about $490 million) in 2020. $319 million).
“The market has dropped significantly,” said Karim, another producer of Ajira.
This year, Karim faced new challenges as the region suffered the worst drought in decades. Due to water shortages, only part of the family’s land could be cultivated this year. Farmers are also seeing increased efforts to stop illegal production as the government begins to regulate the Moroccan cannabis market.
“Farmers are the weak link in the supply chain. We pay the price,” Karim complained.
“Prison is the only option left,” he added.