By / August 5, 2021

Cannabis in Morocco: A Future Major Exporter of Green Gold?

Morocco is among the Top 10 countries seizing the largest quantities of cannabis in the world in 2019. This is revealed by the 2021 World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Trafficking, celebrated on June 26. “The largest quantities of cannabis resin (totaling 1,395 tons) were seized by Spain, followed by Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the document said.

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Decreasing Cannabis Production Area, but Morocco Still in Top-Ten

According to UNODC, “if we consider a longer period (2009-2019), the countries seizing the largest total quantities were, in order of the quantities seized, the United States, Mexico, Paraguay, Colombia, Nigeria, Morocco, Brazil, India, and Egypt ”. There was 21,000 ha dedicated to the cultivation of cannabis in Morocco in 2019, mainly cultivated in the Rif region, against 25,000 ha in 2018, according to the report, which cites official statistics from the Moroccan government. Despite this decrease in production areas, Morocco remains, along with Afghanistan, one of the largest exporters of this plant.

“It appears that Moroccan cannabis resin mainly supplies other markets in North Africa and Western and Central Europe. A portion is also sent to Eastern Europe and South-Eastern Europe,” underlines the report, not without specifying that the major part of this quantity bound for the European markets is dispatched in Spain, in France and in the countries.

Economic Potential for Morocco

These markets also figure prominently in Morocco’s strategy for the export of cannabis for medical and therapeutic use. During the presentation of the synthesis of feasibility studies on the legalization of cannabis, its economic potential, and the assets of Morocco, Tuesday, May 4, before the House of Representatives, the Ministry of the Interior announced that Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany, depending on their current legislation in this area, will be the priority markets for Moroccan “green gold”. Objective, with the ambition of annual cannabis revenues of 25 billion dollars per year in 2028. The Kingdom will also target those of France and Italy to reach 42 billion dirhams, he said.

UNODC has also screened the annual prevalence of cannabis use in Africa. Morocco leads with a rate of 5% in 2018, followed by Tunisia and Egypt with 2.5% each in 2016. At the continental level, the annual prevalence was estimated at 6.4% in 2019, among people aged 15 to 64, or 47 million consumers.

Cannabis Demand to Increse by 40% in Next 10 Years

According to the study, the number of cannabis and drug users is expected to increase by 40% over the next ten years, due to the demographic changes that will be experienced in several African countries. An increase of 11% is also expected at the global level by 2030, where there were 200 million consumers in 2019. In addition, the office reveals that global consumption has increased by 18% over the last decade.

Another observation, and not the least, is the increase in cannabis consumption during this health crisis in several countries around the world. The report states that 42% of healthcare professionals in 77 countries confirmed this. The cannabis and broader drug markets experienced temporary disruptions at the start of the pandemic, before adapting to changes in environment and circumstances, notes the UN body.

(Featured image by Lindsay Fox via Pixabay)

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First published in Maroc Hebdo, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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