The Moroccan Legal Cannabis Regulatory Agency held its first meeting in Rabat on Thursday, June 2, the last step before the implementation of a law legalizing the therapeutic use of this plant grown on a large scale in the northeast of the country. .

Morocco, the world’s largest producer of cannabis resin according to the UN, adopted in 2021 a law authorizing “the legal uses of medical, cosmetic and industrial cannabis” under the control of a national agency created for this purpose.

For its first meeting, under the chairmanship of Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit, the Board of Directors of the “National Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis Activities” (Anrac) approved its organization chart and budget under the year 2022.

This public structure is responsible for controlling all stages of the production chain, from the import of seeds and the certification of plants to the marketing of cannabis products. Its action plan includes in particular the forthcoming launch of licensing procedures for national and international operators in the legal cannabis industry.

At least 60,000 families live off “kif”

The agency will also have to set up the first processing and manufacturing cooperatives, made up exclusively of local growers. The last six technical orders necessary for the implementation of the law were published in the official bulletin on Thursday, a spokesman for the interior ministry told AFP.

In March, the government had fixed the areas authorized for the cultivation, production and exploitation of cannabis, namely the provinces of Al-Hoceima, Chefchaouen and Taounate, located in the Rif, a landlocked and deprived mountainous region.

Traditionally cultivated for centuries, authorized under the French protectorate, banned in 1954 but tolerated since, the “kif” supports at least 60,000 families on 55,000 hectares, according to official figures from 2019.

Other provinces could be added “depending on the interest shown by domestic and international investors in activities related to the cannabis production chain”, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

No “recreational” cannabis

This legal framework aims to allow the State to develop a lucrative culture currently in the hands of traffickers. It does not concern “recreational” cannabis, which is still prohibited. The goal is to “reconvert illicit crops that destroy the environment into legal activities that are sustainable and generate value and jobs,” according to the 2021 law.

Until now, small farmers in the North received “4% of final turnover in the illegal circuit” against potentially “12% in the legal market”, according to the official agency MAP.

Morocco is counting on the “sustained development” of the global medical cannabis market, with forecasts of average annual growth of around 60% in Europe, its “target market”, according to a note from the Ministry of the Interior published in 2021. Professionals estimate the legal cannabis market in Europe at one billion dollars (0.8 billion euros).