Morocco has issued its first 10 permits for cannabis production after passing a medical cannabis legalization law last year, Reuters reports. A state agency said farmers who organize into cooperatives in the northern mountain areas of Al Houceima, Taounat, and Chefchaouen will be allowed to cultivate cannabis to meet the needs of the newly legal market.
The bill approved in February 2021 said that Morocco’s illegal cannabis trade was worth about $15 billion – the majority of which ($14.5 billion) goes to drug traffickers rather than farmers ($500 million).
Morocco had previously allowed cannabis cultivation in some rural areas under a special status but seven years ago reduced the amount of land where the practice was allowed from 134,000 hectares to 47,000 hectares.
In 2015, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime identified Morocco as the world’s largest producer of hashish, and 235 tons of hash were seized in the country that year alone. The report found 80% of the national hash production is destined for export, leaving 20% for the local market.
The law is intended to improve the incomes of farmers, who had protested over income inequality in recent years, and protect them from drug traffickers who control the cannabis trade and export it illegally to Europe.
Production under the law can only focus on cannabis for “medical, pharmaceutical and industrial purposes.”
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