First legal cannabis harvest in Marocco

Used news by Reuters and Barneys Farm

After Marocco approved its cultivation and export for medicine and industrial uses, country’s first legal cannabis harvest was 294 metric tons in 2023. This development has not only opened up new avenues for economic growth but also paved the way for a more regulated and controlled cannabis industry in Morocco.

Cannabis regulator ANRAC announced that the harvest was made by 32 cooperatives that brought together 430 farmers covering 277 hectares in the northern Rif mountain areas of Al Houceima, Taounat and Chefchaouen. The legalisation was intended to improve farmers’ incomes and protect them from drug traffickers who dominate the cannabis trade and export it illegally.

About 47,000 hectares of the Rif are devoted to cannabis output, roughly a third of the amount in 2003 after government crackdowns. Nearly a million people live in these areas where cannabis is the main economic activity. It has been publicly grown and smoked there for generations, mixed with tobacco in traditional long-stemmed pipes with clay bowls.

Recognizing the need for change, the Moroccan government took a bold step by approving the cultivation and export of cannabis for medicinal and industrial uses.

This decision aimed to improve farmers’ incomes, protect them from the clutches of the illicit drug trade, and position Morocco as a key player in the growing global market for legal cannabis products. The establishment of ANRAC, the national cannabis regulatory agency, was a crucial step in this process. ANRAC’s role is to oversee the cultivation, processing, and export of legal cannabis, ensuring that the industry operates within the boundaries of the law and benefits the local communities. ANRAC is currently examining applications from 1,500 farmers who have organized themselves into 130 cooperatives, highlighting the growing interest and participation in the legal cannabis industry.

The legalization of canabis cultivation has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of farmers and their families in the Rif region, who have long relied on the plant as their primary source of income.

A critical aspect of the legal cannabis industry in Morocco is the empowerment of local communities. By providing them with legal avenues to grow and sell cannabis, the government can help alleviate poverty, promote rural development, and reduce the influence of drug traffickers in these communities.