Morocco set to legalize medical and industrial cannabis production next week

The legalization bill must still be approved in the North African kingdom’s parliament

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The government of Morocco has announced that it will allow the cultivation, export, and domestic sale of cannabis for medical and industrial use.

The legalization bill must still be approved in the North African kingdom’s parliament. However, Reuters reports that the co-ruling Islamist PJD party—the largest in Morocco’s parliament—dropped its opposition to cannabis legalization. It did so after the U.N. drug agency removed the plant from its list of most tightly controlled narcotic drugs.

UN voted to reclassify cannabis

As CannCentral reported in December, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to reclassify cannabis. The vote moved cannabis out of a category reserved for the most dangerous drugs.

On December 2, the CND reviewed a series of World Health Organization recommendations on cannabis and its derivatives. According to an article on the official UN news website, “the CND zeroed-in on the decision to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs—where it was listed alongside deadly, addictive opioids, including heroin.”

The vote found 27 in favour, 25 against, and one abstention. “The CND has opened the door to recognizing the medicinal and therapeutic potential of the commonly-used but still largely illegal recreational drug,” the UN News article stated.

Recreational use will still be banned

In Morocco, cannabis is mostly grown in the northern Rif mountains. The government hopes legalization will help the region’s impoverished farmers.

Indeed, Morocco World News reports: “The draft bill does not propose to allow cannabis production across Morocco, only the six regions in the Rif mountains that currently have a special status will be allowed to produce legal cannabis.” 

Reuters further reports that the draft law “envisages a national agency to monitor production, transportation and sales. The recreational use of cannabis in Morocco would still be banned.”

The CND says growing cannabis has long been tolerated in Morocco, which is one of the top global producers.

The draft bill estimates the profits of Morocco’s illicit cannabis trade at around US$15 billion. “Those profits,” says Morocco World News, “mainly flow into the coffers of organized crime groups and drug traffickers. Under the current illegal status of cannabis, farmers earn a combined half a billion dollars, while drug traffickers earn nearly $14.5 billion.”

Morocco’s Council of Ministers is expected to approve the draft law next week.

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