This month marked the start of the country’s first legal growing season for cannabis.
In May 2023, the Moroccan government allowed farmers to begin cultivation of cannabis for the legal market, two years after allowing farming for medical, industrial, and export purposes (1,2). The move was also intended to help impoverished farmers in the region and curb the influence of the illegal market (1).
Cannabis is mostly grown in the northern mountainous region and the country is considered by the United Nations (UN) to be the world's largest producer of cannabis resin (2). Cannabis for recreational purposes is still illegal and growing it has been illegal since 1976 (1).
"The legal market will guarantee them income four to five times higher than what they earned illegally," said Mohammed El Guerrouj, director of Agence Nationale de Réglementation des Activités Relatives au Cannabis (ANRAC) (2). "Through their cooperatives, they will negotiate prices. They will have a fixed income, which will provide them with the ability to invest and improve their lifestyle."
Cannabis has been grown illegally in the country for decades, but last year the first 10 permits were given to grow cannabis for the legal market (3). The first permit for a cannabis laboratory to process cannabis in food and pharmaceutical industries was issued last year as well (4).
“More than 400 farmers have already obtained a cultivation permit and 75 operators have received processing, marketing or export permits, including pharmaceutical industries, agribusinesses, cooperatives and individuals," El Guerroj also stated. (2). The Moroccan government distributed seeds manufactured in Switzerland to the participating farmers to begin the cultivation (1).
Concerns for the future direction and impact of the market include resistance from the farmers who are most familiar with the illegal market and the lack of plans to legalize cannabis for recreational use (2).