The government of Morocco ratified last week a draft law to legalise the medical use of cannabis, but upheld a ban on its recreational use.
In a statement, the prime minister’s office said it has “approved a bill to legalise the use and cultivation of cannabis for legitimate medical and industrial purposes.”
Parliament, however, still needs to give its final approval of the legislation.
Moroccan authorities approved a draft bill to legalise the medical use of cannabis on Thursday. https://t.co/ah18doYg8u— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) March 12, 2021
According to the bill’s preamble, Morocco hopes to bring in “global investments by attracting companies specialising in the legitimate uses of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes.”
The draft law calls for the creation of a national agency to regulate the industry and for the establishment of cooperatives that would grow “certified” cannabis plants.
The move would “reconvert illicit” cannabis plantations into “legal and durable activities that generate jobs,” according to the text of the draft legislation.
The issue of legalising “Indian Hemp” has been hotly debated, particularly on social media platforms.
Those opposed to legalised hashish production fear it will encourage illicit cultivation and boost the drug trade throughout the country.
Currently, Moroccan law prohibits hemp in general. Anyone who grows, uses or trades in it is punishable by imprisonment.
Morocco’s production of cannabis was estimated at more than 700 tonnes in a 2020 study by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.
Figures released by Moroccan authorities this week showed that 55,000 hectares (around 136,000 acres) of land in the northern mountainous Rif region were being used to illicitly grow hashish in 2019. Authorities did not give more recent figures, but in 2018 production was estimated at 45,000 hectares.
According to Morocco’s interior ministry, legalising cannabis for medical use will position the country in a global market that is growing at an annual rate of 30% and by 60% a year in Europe.
State regulation will improve farmers’ living conditions and protect them from illegal drug trafficking networks, the ministry said.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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