The move comes as the government continues to nurture a fledgeling medical cannabis infrastructure and foreign trade
The first cannabis specialty testing lab has now started construction in Morocco in the North Western city of Chefchaouen. The facility will be used for the production of both medical and food products. Chefchaouen is one of the cities in which cannabis has been certified to be cultivated. The company, Bio Cannat, is actually the first cooperative in the country to get such approval to proceed.
According to the Interior Ministry, the current attempts to create a nationally certified legit industry and crack down on illicit cultivation had led to an 80% reduction in the black market. Whether that is true or not, it is certainly the case that the land of hash has moved steadily to create a certified market and supply chain. The country has a reputation globally for producing the vast majority of the world’s hashish.
The country legalized both the cultivation of cannabis and legalized its use in both medicinal and industrial purposes in 2021. The certification process, including the launch of a website with the forms and applications, was just launched in January of this year.
A Brief History of Moroccan Cannabis
Cannabis has been a historically cultivated crop, particularly in the northern Rif mountains and is globally known for the quality of its hashish. Cannabis was first made illegal in 1956 at the time of the country’s independence. This policy was reversed in May 2021 when the Parliament voted to change the law.
The influx of young Western tourists also impacted the industry here in the 1960’s and 1970’s. As a result of massive demand from both tourists and smugglers, local growers adopted larger-scale techniques to replace what up until this point had been a strictly artisanal practice.
Impact On Europe
It is only a matter of time before Moroccan medical cannabis enters Germany (for starters). The country, located just south of Spain, is an obvious source for certified flos, and for a price that makes it competitive in the increasingly price sensitive medical market for flower.
The fact that certification facilities are opening in a northern city not far from the ports connecting Morocco with Spain via Gibraltar (less a fifty-mile trip by sea and occasionally accessible even by ferry), is a major step in prepping the export journey of such product north.
Given the current discussion about how to increase Spanish medical crops, it may well be that the first European market that Moroccan cannabis makes an impact in is actually not Germany.
Regardless, there is no way that wholesalers anywhere in Europe can ignore this development any longer. Such cannabis will also be competitively priced with anything coming out of either Africa or Europe right now.
Will This Stop the Gray Market?
It is, despite proclamations of the government to the contrary, unlikely that even a strong medical market in Morocco will stop at least a grey market trade. That has never worked, anywhere. However, what this development may well do is begin to create a strong legal trade with all the benefits that come with it. This in turn will in fact create a valuable export trade for a country that needs this kind of higher value crop to boost domestic spending and infrastructure – and via legal channels.
Generally, in other words, it is a very positive development, no matter how imperfectly executed. This well be one national export program that succeeds very well, especially given the differential in costs on either side of the straits of Gibraltar.