Cannabis in Morocco – Laws, Use, and the Rif Mountains

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It’s illegal to use, purchase or sell cannabis in Morocco. It’s also illegal to grow it, but despite this fact, the country is the world’s biggest cannabis exporter. Most of the crops grow around the Rif mountains, though it’s fairly common to see people smoking hashish in pipes everywhere. Some politicians are fighting to make cannabis use legal.

    • Capital
    • Rabat
    • Population
    • 37,071,000
    • CBD Products
    • Illegal
    • Recreational cannabis
    • Illegal
    • Medicinal cannabis
    • Illegal

Cannabis laws in Morocco

Can you possess and use cannabis in Morocco?

It’s illegal to use or possess cannabis in Morocco. The country was a signatory to the United Nations Conventions on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1961, 1971 and 1988), and the law refers to drugs as ‘poisonous substances’.

Morocco adopted an anti-cannabis stance under the French protectorate (though in the Spanish regions of the country, its cultivation was tolerated). Even after gaining its independence in 1954, it kept most of the anti-drugs legislation. This remained unchanged until the Criminal Code of Morocco was established in 1962. This document outlines several key principles:

  • If an offender is caught using cannabis, they may be placed in a treatment facility
  • They may also have their assets confiscated
  • They may be subject to punishment for possessing drugs

The Criminal Code states that drugs-related offences can be punished with up to 30 years in prison, and a fine of up to €60,000. Those caught using drugs can face up to 10 years imprisonment, though this sentence isn’t given very often.

Although using cannabis is illegal in the country, it is largely tolerated by the authorities. Indeed, the smoking of hashish is deeply rooted in Moroccan heritage, which is why many people in the country continue to call for its legalisation.

The Moroccan government seem to be coming around to the idea. Since 2011, the country’s parliament has been considering making cannabis legal for both industrial and medicinal purposes. In 2014, one political party proposed a bill to legalise it; but this bill failed, and the movement was further impeded by the resignation of Ilyas El Omari – a prominent advocate for the decriminalisation of cannabis.

Can you sell cannabis in Morocco?

While it’s illegal to sell cannabis in Morocco, it’s commonplace to see it being sold across the country, particularly in cities like Marrakech, Fez and Casablanca, and the cannabis-growing region of Rif where Chefchauoen is the capital.

In cafes, local men will often purchase hashish then smoke it through a water-pipe called a hookah. These hookah pipes are also sold at markets, though they might be more discreetly positioned towards the back of the stall or shop.

Can you grow cannabis in Morocco?

Moroccan law bans the cultivation of cannabis, and if you’re caught growing it, you could face a prison sentence and a fine. In spite of this, there are numerous cannabis plantations across the country, particularly in the mountainous Rif region. According to Bloomberg, the cannabis industry employs 800,000 people in the country, and provides a living for around 90,000 to 140,000 families. It’s also estimated that the cannabis grown generates $10billion a year.

Given this figure, it’s unsurprising that some farmers believe Moroccan authorities want to legalise cannabis so they can profit from the market.

Is CBD legal in Morocco?

CBD isn’t differentiated from cannabis in Moroccan law, so technically it’s illegal. This is despite the fact that it has very low levels of THC, the substance responsible for providing the ‘high’.

Can cannabis seeds be sent to Morocco?

Any form of cannabis cultivation is illegal in Morocco, and as a result, the sale or purchasing of cannabis seeds is forbidden by law. This includes mailing them in and out of the country.

Medicinal cannabis in Morocco

Morocco’s government have expressed an interest in legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes in the past. This seems to be focused more on economic gain than healthcare benefits. In 2013, parliament considered regulating cannabis for medicinal purposes, and in 2014, the opposition party put forward a bill to legalise cannabis entirely.

Ex-Prime minister Abdelilah Benkirane (Islamist Justice and Development Party) also considered decriminalising the entire hashish industry. Milouda Hazib, head of the Party for Authenticity and Modernity, stated: “We are not seeking to legalise the production of drugs, but to search for possible medical and industrial uses of this plant and create an alternative economy in the region.”

Industrial hemp in Morocco

At present, it’s illegal to grow hemp in Morocco. However, the government have often discussed the possibility of legalising the cultivation of cannabis for industrial and medicinal purposes only. This would match evolving international practices – as many other countries across the globe generate excellent profit from industrial hemp.

Morocco is in a good position to turn hemp cultivation into a booming industry. As the world’s largest hashish supplier, it’s already got a proven track-record of producing large quantities of high-quality cannabis. In 2013, the country’s parliament reviewed the economic potential of legalising cannabis farming for industrial purposes. As yet, no decision has been made.

Morocco’s political parties and cannabis

Many of Morocco’s politicians adopt a positive stance to legalising cannabis; though they are often met with opposition from other political parties.

One major parliamentary group, PAM, has been outspoken in the past about their support of legalisation. They are backed by other prominent parties, such as the USFP and the Istiqlal party.  However, the Islamist conservative party PJD, who often hold a parliamentary majority, are against it.

It’s certainly a suggestion that seems to be gaining more popularity among Morocco’s political circles.

Good to know

If you are travelling to Morocco (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:

  • A recent report found that one in ten high school students in Morocco had tried cannabis.
  • In 2015, UNODC estimated that Morocco’s outdoor cannabis production was in the region of 38,000 tonnes. Its indoor production amounted to 760 tonnes.

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Manostaxx – Industrial Management Consulting

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