Rabat – Morocco remained in 2015 the world’s largest provider of cannabis resin, feeding drug trafficking networks in Europe and North Africa, according to a report published last week by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
In North Africa alone, the number of cannabis users is estimated at 5.7 million. Moroccan resin is in great demand for its very powerful and high yielding hybrid varieties, the UNODC notes in its 2017 report on drugs in the world.
During 2015, Morocco saw the third largest number of drug seizures in the world. The UN’s report notes that cannabis resin seizures from the kingdom increased substantially in 2015, reaching 235 tons. Eighty percent of this national production is destined for export, leaving 20 percent to the local market.
Spain remains the main route through which Moroccan cannabis resin is transported to Europe, usually by land. The UN wrote that 15.9 tons were seized in 2015 at the Moroccan-Spanish maritime borders, compared with 15.2 tons in 2014. The same period also saw the seizure of 120 Kg of cocaine and 4.5 Kg of heroin.
Morocco remains the most reported country by the states as a source of cannabis resin, followed by Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon, India and Pakistan, the UNODC’s report noted.
In 2015, Morocco continued to be the world’s largest producer of cannabis resin, with 38,000 tons produced in open air. Indoor production amounted to 760 tons in the same year, according to UNODC. In 2015, the report states, 45,853 hectares out of 47,000 total cultivated areas of cannabis resin were exploited.
The office points out that Morocco has continued to supply cannabis resin to Europe and the North African countries during the period of 2010-2015 through smuggling networks.
In addition to the ongoing deliveries to Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands, European Integrated Police (Europol) detected a new road used by traffickers to transport the drug produced in Morocco to Europe through Libya. Data from UNODC and Europol confirmed that most of the drugs introduced into Europe are produced in Morocco.
According to the UNODC report, revenues generated by drug trafficking are harmful to the economy. “An influx of money from drug trafficking can boost investment and drive local gross domestic product. In the long run, however, drug money tends to have negative effects, especially when it represents a significant part of the economy of a community or country,” the agency said.
In this case, it may inflate property prices, distort exports, create unfair competition, reinforce unequal distribution of income and wealth, and increase corruption, according to the UN. The report warns of a cycle by which the development of an illicit economy contributes to weakening the rule of law and encourages corruption, which in turn reinforces the drug sector.
Studies show that the injection of laundered money, especially from the drug trade, into the economy results in overall declines in growth rates. A study run in 17 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimated that a USD 1 billion increase in the volume of laundered money could reduce overall economic growth by around 0.03 to 0.06 percentage points per year, UNODC notes.