Rabat – Morocco’s has made a monumental decision to legalize the production of cannabis for “medical, pharmaceutical, and industrial use.” The government of Morocco has adopted bill 13-21 which will now need to be approved by both houses of parliament.
With little resistance predicted from parliamentarians, the bill is highly likely to become a reality in the near future. In the meantime, Morocco World News investigated the details of the bill in order to discover Morocco’s chosen approach to cannabis legalization.
Morocco’s current illicit cannabis industry is worth $15 billion according to government estimates, providing a powerful incentive for legalization.
The proposed bill would create a parallel legal cannabis industry, tightly regulated to ensure both product quality and environmental and social protections for cannabis producers.
Several elements of the bill remain subject to additional bills that clarify specific details, yet bill 13-21 provides insight into the framework that the government has in mind.
Points of concern
Morocco’s legalization bill establishes a framework on which it can build its legal cannabis industry. It sets rules and guidelines for the national agency that will be the hub in Morocco’s newest sector.
Much of the upstream (production) and export functions of Morocco’s legal cannabis industry have been defined by the adopted bill yet the government has not provided a comprehensive sweeping bill that aims to resolve all details.
Upcoming additional legislation will flesh out some important details, some of which could have far-reaching consequences. Some concerns remain regarding the protection of native “Beldia” landraces (a cannabis strain), the definition of what “commercialization” of cannabis entails, and how the national agency will set quotas on production.
In many ways, the bill aims to establish its new industry as a proper legal field like all other industries. It aims to set industry standards to ensure environmental protection, mandate crop rotation, the use of GMOs, and other agricultural norms.
Domestic cannabis consumers do not warrant even a single mention in the bill, leaving much of the domestic downstream (distribution) process to be determined at a later date.
One important element of the bill is that it clearly abandons any taboo on cannabis products. It treats legal cannabis like any other natural resource and clearly tries to provide important protection for Morocco’s cannabis-producing regions.
One of those protections is the establishment of zones where cannabis cultivation is allowed, these have not been defined officially, yet government communication indicates these will be the traditional cannabis-producing regions.
Cannabis farmers will be expected to join together into cooperatives. This might provide an obstacle for some, in regions where illiteracy can be as high as 69%, requiring a thoughtful rollout and clear communication from the government in the future.
Cooperatives will be supervised by the national agency that will supervise the industry and be a hub for producers, distributors, manufacturers, and domestic and foreign investors. While this agency will need strong anti-corruption protocols, it does establish a single entity that could be held accountable.
The board of the national cannabis agency will be composed of industry representatives that include producers, as well as governmental figures and other stakeholders.
While Morocco’s cannabis bill does not address all concerns, it can be seen as an encouraging first step that can help lift the taboo on cannabis and provide an impetus for a budding new industry.
Morocco World News will continue to closely follow the developments around the legalization process and publish an English-language summarized version of the bill in the upcoming week.