In Morocco’s intensifying battle with drugs, it is employing a national strategy to fight drugs and addiction, resulting in an increase of people prosecuted in drug cases to 107,000 in 2017.
Rabat – Morocco is adopting “a multi-dimensional national strategy to fight illegal drugs and is determined to place civil society in the forefront of this national strategy,” Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi said on Saturday in Tetouan, near Tangier.
El Khalfi was speaking at the second discussion on “Civil Society and the Drug Scourge: Reality and Stakes,” organized in partnership with the Tetouan Council, the Regional Council of Tetouan, and the University of Abdelmalek Saadi.
The attendees of the discussion, which featured 280 associations of civil society and government actors, all recognized civil society’s efforts to fight drugs and addictions and that they should receive sufficient support.
During the discussion, El Khalfi asserted that Morocco has international commitments to combat drugs and has been involved in multiple international conventions in the field.
El Khalfi said that Morocco’s geographic location makes it the focus of dangerous networks which actively promote various types of drugs.
He noted that “Moroccan authorities during a specific operation in the Mediterranean port managed to seize a huge quantity of 40 million psychotropic pills coming from Asia to Africa.”
The official pointed out that “the danger of the phenomenon is increasing because these networks developed their methods to produce and promote new, dangerous and cheap pills which quickly destroy young people’s lives.”
The government’s spokesperson revealed some figures related to drug trafficking. According to the public prosecution, 107,000 people were prosecuted in 2017 drug cases, an increase from 36,000 persons per year during the previous decade.
About 25 percent of the prison population of 83,000 people were prosecuted in drug cases. The prison administration has been forced to adopt measures to combat addiction within prisons.
El Khalfi said that a primary focus of “the national strategy to combat drugs and fight addiction” is to tighten security and surveillance. He noted that in the first nine months of this year, authorities seized 700 kilograms of hard drugs, 51 tons of cannabis resin, 90 tons of cannabis, and 600,000 psychotropic pills.
The year 2017 was exceptional because police seized more than 2,500 kilograms of hard drugs.
The other focus of the national strategy is the Ministry of Health’s efforts to fight drug addiction.
Morocco’s rehabilitation centers increased from five centers in 2015 to 12 centers this year. Within two years from now, the country aims to have 20 centers dedicated to rehabilitation, in addition to drug addiction departments in university medical centers, El Khalfi noted. The ministry also has a national program for 2018-2022 to prevent drug addiction.
The minister also said that King Mohammed VI attaches great importance to this program, because he personally inaugurated a number of the rehabilitation centers “in an expression of the collective will of Morocco to confront this phenomenon.”
More than 25,000 people have used the centers, and over 6,000 addicts are currently being cured.
On the developmental level, the minister pointed out that satellite images showed that cultivated areas of cannabis decreased by 65 percent from 134,000 hectares in the last 10 years to 47,000 hectares currently.
As an alternative to cannabis cultivation, the state allocated over MAD 1 billion for a four-year integrated program to carry out 400 projects for 95 communities in five provinces of the northern Rif region, in partnership with various associations.
At the end of his speech, El Khalfi emphasized the need to achieve convergence between the relevant actors in the context of a holistic approach, to effectively fight the scourge of drugs.