While Morocco’s cannabis farmers have been forced in the past to cultivate their crops under blackmail conditions and constant harassment from police, a new proposal aimed at legalizing marijuana could put an end to these unlawful shakedowns and stimulate an economic uprising.
Reports indicate that Morocco is considering legalizing marijuana for medicinal and industrial purposes, which would allow the country to prosper from the manufacturing of textiles and paper. However, many believe the proposal will be difficult to bring to fruition because of the country’s strong Islamic faith, which holds a moral opposition to drugs even though the country has grown cannabis for centuries.
Nevertheless, Morocco’s lawmakers believe that by revamping the current drug policies, the country will have the ability to emerge from its weak economic condition while helping the local farmers. As it stands, Morocco is one of the leading suppliers of hashish in the world — an industry which would undoubtedly sustain a significant growth spurt in the wake of a legalized market.
Yet, marijuana farmers are skeptical about any plan conjured up by the political brass. Many are concerned over the government’s sudden interest in the region in addition to feeling distress over the possibility that legalization will cause them to earn even less money per kilogram than they are now.
“If legalization happened for all of Morocco, we could never compete with the other farmers that have lots of land and the price of cannabis wouldn’t be any different than that of carrots,” said Mohammed Benabdallah, an activist from the village of Oued Abdel Ghaya.
Although the retail market for hashish brings in a substantial amount of revenue, marijuana farmers earn less than $5,000 per year. And because of the current legal climate, they are also forced to pay hefty bribes to the police in order to keep from being imprisoned.
Ultimately, Morocco’s farmers have no other choice but to grow marijuana because it’s the only crop that seems to flourish in the country’s soil and severe drought conditions. It’s for this reason that many lawmakers believe the time has come to repeal the government’s 1974 ban on the cultivation of illegal drugs.
“If Morocco has a crop that could produce these medicines that could be sold today in the U.S., Canada and France, it is an employment opportunity for citizens living in a miserable situation,” said Mehdi Bensaid, with the Party of Authenticity and Modernity, during a recent interview with The Associated Press. “It’s a win-win, for the state, because there is tax, and for the citizens, because they are in an illegal situation.”
The Moroccan government did attempt to impose alternative crop programs for area farmers, but none were lucrative enough to be considered successful. These programs were terminated in 2010.
“Marijuana,” said Bensaid, “resists the drought that kills other plants.”
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