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26.02.2021 Morocco

Morocco mulling legalising medicinal cannabis

By AFP
A farmer in a cannabis field in Morocco's northern Rif region in 2017; the North African nation is now considering legalising production for therapeutic use of the drug.  By FADEL SENNA (AFP)
LISTEN FEB 26, 2021
A farmer in a cannabis field in Morocco's northern Rif region in 2017; the North African nation is now considering legalising production for therapeutic use of the drug. By FADEL SENNA (AFP)

Morocco, a country where large volumes of cannabis are grown illicitly, is considering legalising production for therapeutic use of the drug, the government said Thursday.

The government has "begun to study a legislative bill relating to the legal use of cannabis," it said in a statement.

The draft text, seen by AFP, envisages the creation of a "national agency to regulate activities linked to cannabis".

The agency will be mandated to develop an agricultural and industrial framework in regions that will be authorised to produce the crop, the bill states.

The growing, sale and consumption of cannabis are currently strictly forbidden.

But usage is largely tolerated in the north, where the livelihoods of between 90,000 and 140,000 people is estimated to depend on illicit production.

Current cannabis output in Morocco is estimated at more than 700 tonnes, in a 2020 study by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.

Legally produced quantities must not surpass the volume "required for production of a medical, pharmaceutical and industrial nature", the bill adds.

Growers would have to be part of agricultural cooperatives and would supply only authorised firms, it envisages.

Legalising the therapeutic use of cannabis will position Morocco in a global market that is growing at an annual rate of 30 percent, and 60 percent in Europe, according to a note by the interior ministry.

Legislation and regulation will also improve farmers' living conditions and protect them from "drug trafficking networks," that note added.

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