Article: Morocco’s new cannabis production law needs faster implementation

ISS write in this opinion piece

Action is required to keep farmers on side and prevent traffickers from laundering proceeds through the legal market.

Morocco has long been ranked as one of the world’s largest cannabis producers. In June last year, Parliament adopted a law to regularise the plant’s production for medical, cosmetic and industrial purposes, while production and consumption for recreational purposes remained strictly prohibited.

The new legislation governs all aspects of cannabis regularisation, from cultivation conditions to the import of seeds and export of products. But delays in implementing it create frustration and mistrust between farmers and the government – and opportunities for traffickers to continue their trade. This will affect both the country and the region.

Morocco is among a small but growing group of African countries (Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe) seeking to position themselves in a booming international legal market for cannabis. The policy change comes in the wake of global shifts regarding cannabis production. In December 2020, for example, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs reclassified cannabis under an international listing that recognises its medical value. Morocco supported this.

The move is also an opportunity for Morocco’s government to address longstanding grievances with cannabis farmer communities, who for years have felt disconnected from the central government. They have often turned to the illegal cannabis trade when faced with bleak livelihood prospects in the licit economy.

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