Members of the Moroccan House of Representatives adopted on Wednesday the bill authorizing the therapeutic use of cannabis, a major reform for this North African country considered to be one of the leading producers of hashish in the world.
The text on “the legal uses of cannabis, medical, cosmetic and industrial”, was adopted with 119 votes for and 48 against.
The MPs of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), which is leading the government coalition, were the only ones to vote against the text both at the level of the parliament committee and during the plenary session. The PJD MPs denounce “haste” in adopting the text and risk of “exploitation during electoral campaigns” for the coming regional and legislative elections scheduled next fall.
The aim of the bill – which has yet to be approved by the second chamber of Parliament before being ratified and published in the official gazette- is to “convert illicit crops that destroy the environment into sustainable legal activities that generate value, money and employment,” according to the text, which bans using the substance for recreational purposes.
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 and limits the plantation of cannabis to six regions only in northern Morocco, where, according to official figures, some 400,000 people, or 60,000 households, live on the cultivation of cannabis.
The legalization of therapeutic use of the substance aims to improve the living conditions of these households and protect them from drug trafficking networks, as put by Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit, when he took the floor during the house of representatives plenary session.
He said that this bill is in line with the changes incurred by the global drug control system and in a special context marked by an “unprecedented” enthusiasm in countries around the world to develop cannabis cultivation and profit from the income generated by the commercialization of its legal products.
Laftit underlined that the exhaustive studies carried out by his department showed that Morocco has great potentialities which are able to attract important investments for the industrialization of cannabis and the access to the global markets of these products.
This bill, which fills a legal gap in the management of cannabis, considers the farmer the cornerstone of this project by allowing him to have an authorization issued by the National Regulatory Agency for the cannabis-related activities, established under this bill, Laftit said.
In support of the efforts of negotiation between farmers and manufacturers, the bill recommends that farmers set up cooperatives which will be in charge of signing contracts with manufacturers and ensuring the preservation of farmers’ rights, underlined Laftit, adding that the Agency will also support the farmers and allow them to acquire the best methods for sustainable agriculture and to be open to global experiences in this field, in addition to the acquisition of quality seeds.
The Interior Minister also noted that the bill features the gender approach by instructing the National Regulatory Agency to improve the conditions of rural women in these regions.