Legalize Weed in Morocco

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Even visiting Morocco, the preponderance with which (almost exclusively) Moroccan men consume hash is pretty astonishing. I remember being at a friend’s home and watching her middle class father take out a pipe to smoke hash after dinner, even though young kids were sitting around watching TV. Hiking in the mountains, you’ll often come across groups of men (sometimes one by himself) taking a break to smoke a pipe. High unemployment means that many young men regularly smoke hash to get through the day – it’s cheap, and they have nothing else to do. Women do sometimes smoke, but they aren’t the major consumer of the drug – I was pretty astonished to see a middle class woman light a joint in the middle of a friend’s living room, since it’s much more frowned upon for women to smoke than men. As many tourists can surely attest, even though it’s illegal, you can find hash in Chefchaouen within 10 minutes of arriving….and if it’s taken you 10 minutes, that’s most likely a new record. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see what the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis would do for Morocco, in terms of GDP, income for farmers, useless police raids, and even potential tourism. 

Earlier this summer, two of Morocco’s political parties proposed laws to legalize cannabis for “therapeutic and industrial” purposes. The production of cannabis and hash is mainly centered in the Northern Rif Mountain region. The Rif has traditionally been underdeveloped, overlooked, and marginalized by the past few regimes, due to its reputation as a hotbed of resistance, particularly during colonialism. Cannabis has been the most successful cash crop, with other attempts to replace it mostly failing. Depending on the sources you believe, Morocco could supply up to 50% of the world’s hashish, or significantly less, but the country is the second largest exporter of the drug, Afghanistan being the first.

This isn’t the first time Morocco has considered legalizing the drug – lawmakers discussed similar propositions in 2009 – but the effect on the farmers who grow cannabis, as well as on the Moroccan consumer has yet to be determined. It’s seriously unlikely that this proposition would pass, but the economic benefits would be worth considering. As always, though, it’s the social context that need more exploration. Read more on this issue at Muftah.

 




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