Morocco continues to be the world’s largest producer of illicit cannabis, despite government crackdowns and a renewed focus on combating the drug trade.
Rabat – Employing at least 40% of the workforce in Morocco, agriculture remains one of the most important industries in the kingdom.
For numerous crops such as olives and almonds, Morocco remains among the world’s leading producers, helping to maintain the country’s international presence and participation in trade.
However, on the darker side of agriculture in Morocco lies a massive network dedicated to the production of one substance in particular: cannabis.
Morocco has gained an international reputation for cannabis production, with an entire industry dedicated towards “drug tourism” having recently developed, especially in cities throughout the Rif region, where a majority of the country’s cannabis is grown.
The kingdom has also become notorious for its substantial hashish production, which at one point fueled over 70% of European consumption of the substance and continues to be the largest producer of hashish in the world.
Meanwhile, this notoriety has been confirmed by a new report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which confirmed that Morocco remains the world’s largest producer of cannabis, producing over three times more than the next highest contender, the European country Moldova.
Additionally, the report revealed that cannabis production in the country continues to grow, with the production of cannabis herbs increasing from 35,653 tons in 2016 to 35,703 tons in 2017.
However, in reality, this number is even higher, as these figures do not include the production of resin and other forms of cannabis.
In an attempt to mitigate this growth, Moroccan authorities have continued to place heavy pressure on the illicit drug trade since the government announced in 2018 that it would be placing more focus on combating the drug trade.
Last year, Morocco announced the implementation of “a multi-dimensional national strategy to fight illegal drugs and is determined to place civil society in the forefront of this national strategy.”
This week on June 23, police seized over 600 kilograms of cannabis resin near Zagora in southern Morocco, arresting two suspects as a result.
Earlier this month, on June 12, nearly 13 tons of the substance were seized in Nador, as well.
In addition to making strides in combating the trade of cannabis, the government has been working towards countering the distribution of other drugs, such as cocaine and various psychotropic substances.
On June 16, police in Agadir seized 100 grams of cocaine and over 31,000 psychotropic tablets, leading to three arrests of individuals involved in the trade of these substances.
Mustapha El Khalfi, Morocco’s government spokesperson, announced that more than 107,000 people were prosecuted for drug crimes in 2017, and this number is expected to increase as the implementation of the government’s new strategy becomes fully realized in the coming years.