The bill on the legalization of medical cannabis in Morocco translated and annotated

Undertaken by World Morocco News

The translation below is for illustrative and informative purposes and does not constitute an official legal document.

Morocco’s Cannabis Legalization Framework, Bill 13-21

SECTION I : General Provisions 

Articles 1 to 3 situate this bill with regards to existing and in-practice cannabis legislation.

Article 1 mentions the changes the bill will bring to the decrees of December 2, 1922, April 24, 1954, and May 21, 1974. These decrees classify cannabis as a “toxic substance and drug” and criminalize its production, sale, trade, and usage.

Article 1 states that in respect to the laws established by this present bill, the cannabis industry will now be framed through the legal provisions of this bill and the upcoming legislation resulting from it.

Article 2 attempts to provide a clear definition of many cannabis industry terms, such as what are regarded as cannabis plants, what the term “cannabis” entails, and its denominations throughout the bill, to cannabis resin, and what Moroccan law defines as a “drug.”

Article 3 then elaborates on this decriminalization by stating that no cannabis-related activity is legal unless the actor involved has received a permit from what the bill will refer to as the “Agency.” The activities are enumerated as follows:

– Planting cannabis

– Creating and exploiting cannabis plantations and farms

– International cannabis trade

– Transforming cannabis plants and resin into cannabis-derived products

– The sale and commercialization of cannabis

SECTION II : Production of Cannabis 

Article 4 states that cannabis production activity will be restricted to specific regions, to be communicated in an upcoming decree.

Article 5 specifies that the production quota will be decided (annually) based on demand.

Article 6 states that a THC limit will be determined for most cannabis farming. The limit is yet to be determined, with an exception for crops meant for medical and pharmaceutical use.

Article 7: For people wishing to receive permits for cannabis farming and/or cannabis production, this article sets the eligibility criteria:

– The applicant needs to be a Moroccan national.

– The applicant needs to be of legal age (18+ years old).

– The applicant needs to be a registered resident in a region where production is allowed by an upcoming decree (article 4).

– The applicant needs to belong to a cooperative.

– The applicant, if not a landowner, needs the written approval of the landowner to plant and produce cannabis, prior to applying for the permit.

– If the applicant is a landowner, he requires written proof of ownership/exploitation from local administrative authorities prior to applying for the permit.

These conditions form a large part of the wider specifications this bill introduces

Article 8 frames production by detailing the rules of cannabis farming/production.

First, the article lists a few production rules to be respected once the permit is approved; they are listed as follows:

– The article reiterates the importance of the respect of the aforementioned specifications listed in article 7, resulting in a cannabis farming/production permit.

– Farmers need to restrict production to state-approved strains of cannabis, that will be determined by upcoming legislation from the agency.

– Farmers need to deliver the totality of produced cannabis crops to their respective cooperatives (mentioned in article 7), and will be paid the set price that was agreed upon in the partnership contract (to be elaborated on in article 10 of the present bill).

The article then elaborates on the specifications it needs to respect and report. These include:

– The standards to be respected and followed during the cannabis production/farming process

– The legal provisions to be followed in regards to planting rotation, and the number of planting cycles allowed

– The rules and regulations regarding fertilizers and pesticides as framed by already existing agricultural laws

Article 9: In this article, the bill entertains the possibility of lost/damaged crops and frames the reporting process, stating:

“If the farmer/producer is incapable of delivering the totality of the crops or a portion of the crops to the cooperative due to forced or accidental damage, it needs to be reported to the agency within three days of the incident, in order for the agency to run its proper investigations on the matter.”

Article 10 elaborates on a vital entity, the cooperatives:

– Firstly, the article obliges the cooperatives to receive the totality of the crops expected to be collected by its member farmers and producers, and instructs the cooperatives to sell them directly to their approved clients. These include corporations and companies specialized in the transformation of cannabis, previously approved by the agency.

– During the delivery phase (from cooperative to company), local authorities and/or local government agents need to be present. This article then requires the overseeing national agency officials to produce a written report of the delivery they witnessed.

– Reporting needs to include the identities of the parties involved in the transaction, the date of the delivery, the location, the quantities handed over, the delivery personnel’s information, and the destination of the cargo. The report needs to be signed by the agency delegation commissioned with the delivery patrol.

– The article then specifies that any excess produce needs to be immediately destroyed by the members of the delegation. (Excess is determined by the contractually agreed upon quantity between the cooperative and the purchasing company.)

– The format and specifications of the contracts linking the cooperatives and the buyers will be determined by upcoming legislation.

Article 11 legalizes direct delivery from the agency to the buying entities, in case of non-conformity with the delivery guidelines mentioned by article 10.

SECTION III : Framing of Farms and Plantations  

Article 12 specifies the necessity of the conformity of cannabis plantation, farming, import, and export permit applicants to the conditions listed in article 7.

It also states that current laws regarding strains and seeds also apply.

Article 13 sets the conditions for opening cannabis plantations, their exploitation, and the rules of import and export of cannabis seeds by stating:

– That plantation owners are also required to respect the specifications (cahier de charge) mentioned in article 8. This concerns the operations undertaken after the collection of crops, such as delivery and specifically storage, in compliance with industry standards.

– That farmers have an obligation to exclusively plant agency-approved cannabis strains.

– The importance of ensuring safe, secure, and adequate storage facilities and systems.

Selling cannabis strains to unauthorized parties is explicitly forbidden by this same article.

Destruction of strains can only be undertaken in the presence of local authorities, and in compliance with the procedure detailed in article 10.

SECTION IV : Production of Cannabis-Derived Products 

Article 14 enumerates the criteria for companies wishing to receive a permit for the transformation of cannabis plants/seeds and production of derived products.

– The company is required to be registered as a private company under Moroccan law.

– The applicant company needs to have at its disposal the financial and human resources necessary to undertake the activity.

– The company is required to have all permits and authorizations necessary for all industrial and commercial companies in Morocco.

In addition to these conditions, the applicant company needs to have a contract with a registered supplier as specified by article 10 (cooperative).

Article 15: Industrial companies need to provide adequate (according to industry standards, the article emphasizes safety over quality control conditions) storage facilities for their purchased cannabis crops.

The article also reinforces the bill’s stance on the ban on the destruction of cannabis stock by industrial companies unless a delegation from the national agency is present, as stated by article 10.

Article 16: In cooperation with local judiciary entities, the industrial companies are also required to respect the specifications allocated to their activity, as guided by the national agency’s guidelines.

In addition to the relevant laws in practice, the specifications (cahier de charge) must also include:

– Respect of the rules of transformation, preparation, and storage of raw cannabis stock in full compliance with industry standards

– Respect of the standards previously specified in regards to the transportation of cannabis and derived products

– Reporting additives used during transformation of cannabis and production of its derived products

– Implementing industry standards regarding quality control and product efficiency

The specifications in this article also stress companies’ responsibilities to respect the environmental standards in place under Moroccan law.

Article 17: Production of cannabis-derived products is also regulated by the agency’s to-be-determined THC threshold. The article once again excludes medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers from this limit.

Article 18 details packaging requirements for cannabis-derived products during transportation. They need to be sealed and labeled as per the requirements mentioned in article 8, during their transportation.

SECTION V : Commercialization, Sale, and Export of Cannabis-Derived Products (Exclusive to Medical, Pharmaceutical, and Industrial Products) 

Article 19 prohibits the “commercialization” and export of cannabis and its derived products except those intended for medical, pharmaceutical, and industrial use.

Articles 20 situates the laws of this bill relating to the production and sale of pharmaceutical and medical drugs, referring to Law 17.04 in addition to the legal provisions listed in article 1.

Articles 21 highlights the exceptions to the rules of preexisting legal provisions. It states that cannabis-related activity will be permitted upon approval from the national agency, for companies planning on the sale, trade, and transformation of cannabis and derived products. Its sets the conditions of eligibility for these companies:

– The company is required to be registered as a private company under Moroccan law.

– The companies need to have at their disposal the financial and human resources necessary to undertake the activity.

– The companies are required to have all permits and authorizations necessary for all companies in Morocco.

Articles 22 states that the companies are also required to be equipped with proper and safe storage facilities, and reiterates that the companies also do not have authorization to destroy cannabis without the prior knowledge of the national agency and without the presence of a national agency delegation as stated in article 10.

Articles 23 determines the specifications for retailers and exporters of cannabis-derived pharmaceutical, medical, and industrial products:

– Ensuring adequate and safe storage facilities

– Respecting transportation standards as set by this bill

– Quality control process implementation

– Respecting environmental regulations when it comes to production, production waste, etc.

– Packaging guidelines as listed in this bill

SECTION VI : Permit Application, Approvals, and Rejections 

Article 24 frames the process of the application for all previously mentioned levels of the cannabis cycle.

According to this article, the national agency has a 10-day deadline to issue an administrative application follow-up, and a 60-day deadline from the date of the application’s submission to respond to each permit application, either with an approval or a rejection.

Any denial of a permit needs to be justified by the agency, whether for farming, production, commercialization, or export.

The article also specifies that a delay in or lack of response from the agency should not be considered as a rejection.

Article 25 redirects readers looking for application criteria to articles 7, 12, 14, and 21. It also states that the exact procedure will be established by upcoming regulations from the national agency.

Article 26 details the possible causes for permit denial:

– The permit is denied if the request package contains falsified documents.

– The permit is denied if the national agency judges the activity for which the permit was requested as unhealthy, or encouraging illegal practices and uses, and if the activity is seen as a threat to security.

– The permit is denied if the entity or person requesting it has a history of criteria and/or rule violations as stated by the present document or upcoming legislation on the matter of cannabis production and exploitation.

Article 27 sets the validity of all permits as that of 10 years. All permits are renewable upon demand, following the same process.

Article 28: If one of the key points, criteria, or conditions can no longer be met by the entity/person approved for a permit, the national agency needs to be alerted with a 30-day notice.

Article 29: In this article, the bill confirms an administrative de facto rule: The permits’ beneficiaries can not be transferred.

A change in ownership of an entity/land permitted activity by the national agency is to follow a different permit update procedure that is yet to be determined by the national agency.

In case of the death of the person registered for the permit, or change of ownership, etc., the agency upon request can deliver a temporary permit to directly concerned parties, valid until the distribution of crops. A new permit request can then be presented by the concerned parties.

Article 30: The article details the possible causes of retraction of permit:

– Permit is retracted by request of owner

– Permit is retracted in case of change of ownership as per article 29

– Permit is retracted in case of violation of one of the rules and criteria mentioned in this text and upcoming legal texts on the matter

– Permit is retracted in case of a halt in activity during a period of two consecutive years

– Permit is retracted in case of infringement of existing and valid drug regulating laws

– Permit is retracted if the individual holding the permit is found to be related to a member of the national agency’s executive board

The article also specifies that the agency cannot retract the permits without written notice to the concerned party, with a 15-day deadline for legal/administrative rebuttal from the entity holding the permit.

SECTION VII : The National Agency

Article 31: The national agency will be seated in Rabat, with possibility of local or regional branches opening in areas of concentration of cannabis-related activity.

Article 32: The agency is under the trust of the state. Its objective is oversight over the respect of the mechanisms on which it has jurisdiction as stated by this present bill, and the missions attributed to it, and ensuring the application and respect of the legal and organizational texts related to all public administrations.

The agency is subject to financial auditing and control as applied to all public entities.

Article 33: With respect to the prerogatives attributed to the agency through this bill, and the legal provisions relating to all national public entities, the agency carries out the state’s strategies on the field when it comes to farming, production, industrialization, transformation, commercialization, import, and export of cannabis and derived products.

Therefore, the agency is attributed the following powers and duties:

– Issuing permits, renewing permits, and retracting permits according to the standards established by this bill

– Ensuring the application of the laws of this bill in cooperation with public authorities and concerned parties

– Controlling the state of cannabis reserves (storage facilities, amounts, etc.), conforming with international standards, and consulting various specialized government organs.

– Oversight of the respect of land criteria and partition

– Oversight of all crop transfers

– Coordination between parties involved in the cannabis industry and synergy with authorities

– Field control

– Advancing the status of rural illiterate working women (working in the fields)

– Data collection

– Formalizing the previously informal farms in the state-designated areas

– Producing an annual report

Article 34: The agency will be managed by an administrative council (Executive Board), headed by a general director.

Article 35: The Executive Board is composed of, in addition to the general director, state representatives and representatives of associations and entities in the cannabis field. The laws detailing the organization of the Executive Board will be determined in upcoming organizational legislation.

Article 36: Executive Board membership, being employed by the agency or contractually working with the agency, is incompatible with practicing the activities the agency regulates and for which it issues permits.

Article 37: The agency’s executive role is granted the full authority necessary to the management of the agency, and is applicable on the following points:

– Elaborate strategies for the agency in accordance with state guidelines

– Determine the agency’s work schedule

– Approve the organizational structure and infrastructure of the agency, both centralized (in the national agency) and decentralized

– Approve the basic procedure of the agency in terms of recruitment as well as salaries and compensation

– Regulate the process of deal making, and set standards for deal validity as illustrated by this bill and with respect to relevant legislation

– Frame financing and loan policies

– Set agency’s fees for services provided

– Limit the agency’s budget, spending, and projected income

– Approve financial accounts and allocate resources

– Approve the annual report prepared by the general director

– Manage the real estate allocated to the agency and or falling under its responsibility

– Manage donations

The Executive Board can grant authorization to the general director to settle certain concerns.

Article 38: Annual (fiscal year) meetings are null unless two-thirds of members are present.

Article 39: The Executive Board can create specialized committees within its members on a specific question.

Article 40: The general director’s prerogatives are detailed as follows :

– Executing the board’s decisions

– Approving, renewing, and retracting permits

– Brokering and supervising deals as mentioned by article 33

– Representing the agency

– Legally representing the agency

– Attending board meetings and regional meetings (if a branch opens in x region)

– Annual reports

Article 41: Family members of the Executive Board members cannot request permits for farming, selling, or manufacturing cannabis-derived products.

Article 42 details the agency’s financial resources and expenses.

RESOURCES:

– Income on activity and services provided

– State subsidies

– Semi-fiscal incomes

– Deductibles

– Tax returns

– Approved loans

– Donations

– “Other”

COSTS:

– Investments

– Running and operations costs

– Loan payments

– “Other”

Article 43: Human resources of the national agency is comprised of

– Government officials

– Contractors

Article 44 relates to the agency’s oversight role. The agency must keep up with the entire process, from planting, collection of crops, transport, destruction, and sale, “to ensure it is not used for illegal purposes.”

Article 45: Records the agency must keep:

– Records of permits

– Records of operations

– Records of supply and reserves

Records required from farmers, suppliers, and factories:

– Activity and operations

– Quantities used or collected

Records must be kept for 10 years. The exact form of records and detailed requirements will be determined in upcoming legislation.

Article 46: Specifications for cannabis intended for medical and pharmaceutical use:

– Identification number of permit

– Sender and receiver’s full names

– Exact name of “material” and exact quantity

These references need to be attached to every package throughout the process.

Article 47: Every product containing cannabis should be labeled as such, by a government approved unique symbol to be communicated in upcoming legislation.

Article 48: The aforementioned symbol cannot be used on products lacking approval or permits from the agency.

Article 49: All infringements are controlled by the agency, in synergy with local police forces and national authorities.

Article 50: All violations of the legal provisions established by this bill will be sanctioned according to the previously established laws regarding drug charges.

Sanctions will be applied to:

– Activity without permit

– Practice of activity after expiration of permit

– Practice of activity after retraction of permit

Sanctions: A three-month to two-year prison sentence and fine ranging from MAD 5,000 ($555) to MAD 100,000 ($11,111) will apply to:

– Planting without permit, planting for illicit use, planting without respecting mandated quantities

– Falsifying data and documents

– Continuing activity despite article 36

– Not handing over the totality of crops as mandated by article 7

– Unreported destruction of excess crops

Article 52: A sentence of six months to one year and a fine of MAD 10,000 ($1,111) to MAD 20,000 ($2,222) will apply to whomever obstructs authorities and agency officials in practicing their rightful duties.

Article 53 sets a fine ranging from MAD 20,000 ($2,222) to MAD 100,000 ($11,110) for lack of proper and secure cannabis storage facilities.

Article 54:

– Not keeping mandated records

– Use of unauthorized non-government-approved seeds

– Mislabeled packages

– Infringing rules set by articles 13, 17, and 48

These violations are sanctioned by fine of MAD 5,000 ($555) to MAD 50,000 ($5,550).

Article 55: Sanctions mentioned in articles 50 and 54 are doubled in case of recidivism.

Article 56: Laws on this bill will be applicable as of publication on the official gazette, and upcoming laws will be applicable as of publication on the official gazette.

Source: https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2021/03/337594/moroccos-cannabis-legalization-bill-translated-and-annotated/

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