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Morocco reports first legal cannabis harvest of 294 metric tons

MOROCCO’S first legal cannabis harvest was 294 metric tons in 2023 after the country approved its cultivation and export for medicine and industrial uses, cannabis regulator ANRAC said.

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, ANRAC said in an email to Reuters.

The United Nations drugs agency says about 47,000 hectares of the Rif are devoted to cannabis output, roughly a third of the amount in 2003 after government crackdowns.

This year, the regulator is examining applications by 1,500 farmers who organised themselves into 130 cooperatives, ANRAC said.

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Cultivation of the local drought-enduring landrace, known as Beldia, began this month, it said.

Although Morocco is a major cannabis producer, officially cannabis use for recreational purposes is illegal. In practice, it is tolerated.

Nearly a million people live in areas of northern Morocco 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.

The legalisation was intended to improve farmers’ incomes and protect them from drug traffickers who dominate the cannabis trade and export it illegally.

So far, two legal cannabis transformation units have been operating and two others are waiting for equipment, while 15 cannabis products are in the process of being authorised for medicinal use, ANRAC said.

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Morocco is also seeking to tap into a growing global market for legal cannabis, and awarded 54 export permits last year.

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By AHMED ELJECHTIMI

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