Morocco Unveils Landmark Legal Cannabis Harvest Data, Embracing New Era

Morocco, a nation long associated with illicit hashish production, has taken a significant stride towards embracing a legal and regulated cannabis industry. As the country celebrates its first year of legal cannabis cultivation, Morocco’s cannabis regulatory body, the National Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis-Related Activities (ANRAC), has released data on its inaugural legal harvest in 2023, marking a pivotal moment in the nation’s journey towards a legitimate cannabis market.

According to ANRAC, Morocco’s first legal cannabis harvest in 2023 yielded an impressive 294 metric tons. This landmark achievement involved 32 cooperatives comprising 430 farms spanning 277 hectares in the northern Rif Mountains, a region renowned for its historical ties to cannabis cultivation.

The Rif Mountains, specifically in the provinces of Al Houceima, Taounat, and Chefchaouen, have traditionally been the epicenter of Morocco’s illicit cannabis trade, with farmers relying on the crop as a primary source of income for their villages. However, with the country’s legalization of cannabis cultivation for medical and industrial purposes in 2021, a new chapter has begun, offering opportunities to boost revenue, create jobs, and protect the environment.

ANRAC’s data reveal that approximately 47 hectares of the Rif Mountains were dedicated to legal cannabis output in 2023, a significant reduction from the 2003 levels due to government crackdowns on illicit operations. Nonetheless, Morocco’s commitment to preserving its cannabis heritage while catering to the emerging legal market is evident through its efforts to cultivate indigenous varieties like the Moroccan landrace Beldia.

In addition to the successful harvest, ANRAC granted 609 authorizations and certified 2.1 million cannabis seeds in 2023, underscoring the country’s efforts to formalize the nascent sector. Currently, two legal cannabis transformation units are operational, with two more awaiting equipment, and 15 cannabis products are in the process of being authorized for medical use.

Looking ahead, ANRAC is evaluating applications from 1,500 farmers organized into 130 cooperatives, and cultivation for the renowned Beldia strain has already commenced. While recreational cannabis cultivation remains illegal, it is generally tolerated, particularly in the northern regions where cannabis has been deeply ingrained in the local economy for centuries.

As Morocco navigates this new era of legal cannabis cultivation, there are challenges to overcome, including upfront costs, administrative hurdles, and stringent quality standards for small businesses and cultivators. However, the country’s established reputation in the cannabis industry could provide its products with a “stamp of legitimacy” as they are exported to new markets.

While experts argue that Morocco’s true potential lies in the recreational cannabis market, the country’s first legal harvest marks a significant milestone in its journey towards a legitimate and regulated cannabis industry, signaling a new era of economic opportunities and environmental protection for a nation deeply rooted in cannabis history.


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