First Published: 2013-12-02

Benefits of cannabis under scrutiny: Will Morocco legalise it?
Lawmakers examine cannabis consumption for medical purposes for first time, at request of politicians campaigning for its partial legalisation.
Middle East Online

Authorised in growing number of Western countries

RABAT - Moroccan lawmakers will examine cannabis consumption for medical and industrial purposes for the first time on Wednesday, at the request of politicians campaigning for its partial legalisation, a campaigner said.

The session will look at the positive uses of cannabis cultivation "in creating an alternative economy" in Morocco, one of the world's top exporters of the drug, known locally as "kif."

"We are organising a research day in parliament on Wednesday, on the use of medical kif, with Moroccan and international experts present," Mehdi Bensaid, an MP with the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), a liberal opposition party founded by a politician close to the king, said.

"The idea is to start a debate on that, to see what others' experiences in this field can tell us, looking at controlled rather than total legalisation," he added.

The group of PAM MPs behind the project has invited international experts and NGOs, including two Swiss specialists, to take part in the "open debate," which Bensaid called "the first step towards a draft law."

Cannabis is cultivated in large quantities in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco, where it was only outlawed in the 1970s.

The authorities say that in the past decade they have dramatically reduced the area where the plant is grown.

But an estimated 90,000 households, or 760,000 Moroccans, still depend on kif production, according to official figures, while record hauls of illegally-trafficked Moroccan hashish have been announced in neighbouring Spain this year.

Those campaigning to have cannabis partially legalised in Morocco say it would boost much needed development in the Rif region, benefiting the producers -- mostly poor farmers -- rather than people illegally trafficking the drug, who currently reap the largest profits.

Cannabis use for medicinal purposes has been authorised in a growing number of Western countries, including Holland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Britain, Canada, Australia, several US states, and most recently the Czech Republic.


Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Natural gas in eastern Mediterranean fuels increasing tensions

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis