Morocco: Government adopts draft bill legalizing use of Cannabis for medical purposes

Morocco: Government adopts draft bill legalizing use of Cannabis for medical purposes

The Moroccan government on Thursday adopted a draft law legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

The law will enter into force after approval of the parliament and after it is published in the official bulletin.

The draft law provides for the setting up of a national agency in charge of buying the plant from farmers and selling it to pharmaceutical firms.

According to press reports, the text limits the plantation of cannabis to six regions only in northern Morocco and bans using the substance for recreational purposes.

The legislative process to legalize cannabis for therapeutic purposes was launched after decades of debates over the substance and after the UN dropped cannabis from the list of most dangerous drugs and acknowledged its medical benefits.

Morocco was the only member of the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs (NCD) in the MENA region to vote in favor of the cannabis’ removal from the list of the UN’s Schedule IV classification under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as recommended by the World Health Organization.

The Moroccan bill on the legalization of cannabis for medical and industrial use, elaborated by the Interior Ministry, was put off twice by the government council as rifts emerged within the ruling Islamist PJD party regarding the legalization of the drug.

The PJD Islamists showed reluctance to back the bill after the party’s former leader Abdelilah Benkirane threatened to leave the party if it approves the bill.

Legalization of cannabis has always been a hot issue in Morocco as elections near with some political parties, mainly the PAM and the Istiqlal, being at the forefront of parties defending the legalization of the plant and alleviating the suffering of farmers in the north due to the unlawfulness of their activity and the risks and exploitation they face by traffickers.

Some 400,000 Moroccan farmers are involved in the plantation of cannabis over 73,000 hectares.

The use of cannabis being banned, the country used to seize tons of the drug and its derivatives every year and to arrest thousands of alleged drug dealers. In 2020, Morocco arrested 97,564 people for their alleged involvement in drug cases.

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