Beyond the Mediterranean coastline, northern Morocco’s mountains are pocked with small scale dope farms. The government has tried hard to eradicate them, to little effect, but one governor sees green in the “illicit” plants.
Governor Mohamed Boudra of Hoceima-Taounate, the country’s northern region that is rich with high-enducing resin, told Business Week that it hopes to push through a bill in the next three years that would legalize medicinal marijuana for export.
Currently, the $10 billion trade takes place underground.
Although farmers are persecuted by the government, often losing their carefully-tended crops to slashing and burning – the go-to method of control, scores continue to take their chances. Why? Because there is a real market for marijuana – locally and abroad.
The government has attempted to persuade farmers to switch to almonds and olives, according to Business Week, but hashish has proved too lucrative and successful. So Boudra wants to pump the profit out of pushers’ pockets and into the trade deficit, which the paper reports to devour 23 percent of the national GDP.
Instead of letting allowing middlemen and drug traffickers make all the profit off this pay up to $1,780 for a kilogram of hashish.
Before any bill can be passed, lawmakers say that it’s first important to do the necessary legwork in order to find the right market for their marijuana. Obviously a Muslim country can’t sell THC-laced drugs to the warlords of central Africa. Instead, activists recommend a study of the herb’s medicinal benefits.
“We have to ensure that any legalization is done in an optimal fashion,”Abdelhalim Allaoui, a lawmaker with the ruling Justice and Development Party, told Business Week.
“We need to establish what the medicinal virtues of the plant are and then think of exports, pharmaceutical industry developments, and how to draw foreign investment. This is a promising sector for the economy.”
Legal medical marijuana in Morocco would be a first in the Muslim world, and will obviously be approached very gently, but Israel has one of the world’s most progressive medical marijuana programs.
Farms thrive in relative secret though laws governing them were relaxed in the beginning of 2012.
Image of marijuana plants via Shutterstock