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Morocco to legalize Rif Mountain Cannabis Farmers

Morocco’s Council of Ministers has apparently approved a draft bill that will legalize cannabis production with almost immediate effect. However, production will be restricted to existing cannabis growing areas where farmers will be organized into co-operatives and be allowed to supply local or foreign processors.

It’s also emerged that the value of the country’s illegal cannabis industry is US$15 billion, almost twice as much as previously thought. This is the figure that has apparently jolted the Council into action. Rif Valley farmers, who have been producing cannabis under a centuries’ old informal arrangement, have been complaining they’re being exploited by drug cartels and criminal syndicates who pocket an estimated US$14,5 billion, leaving the balance to be shared amongst growers.

 

Cannabis farmers to be organized into production co-operatives

According to Morocco World News (MWN) the Council met on 25 February 2021 to discuss the bill and will formally approve it next week. Details of the bill have not been made public yet, but it is essentially a co-operative model limited to the Rif Mountains, whereby existing cannabis farmers will be organized into production units to sell their crop to approved local and international processors.

Jasper Hamann of WMN reports that Morocco intends to create a new model that is based on farmers’ cooperatives while tightly controlling what happens to the crop. Morocco’s government has highlighted the plight of thousands of farmers stuck in illegality as one of the motivations for the bill.

 

Only Moroccan nationals will be allowed licenses

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. 

According to the leaked bill’s article 7, Morocco will require cannabis farmers to acquire a license and be of Moroccan nationality, of legal age, and live within Morocco’s traditional cannabis-producing regions.

The draft bill proposes a national agency in charge of monitoring the legal cannabis trade. Articles 15 and 16 reveal a tightly regulated market, with specific measures to ensure safe storage and processing of cannabis crops.

The “National Agency for the Regulation of Indian Hemp Activities” would monitor and regulate Morocco’s cannabis trade according to article 31 of the leaked draft bill, the French-language outlet Morocco Today reported.

Morocco’s production would focus on cannabis for “medical, pharmaceutical and industrial purposes” and allow only companies registered in Morocco to apply for a marketing license, export license, or import license.

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