Europe’s traditional supplier of cannabis is being left out of a growing market as Morocco’s lawmakers delay its important economic decision
Rabat – Morocco, Europe’s largest cannabis supplier, is falling behind against countries that have legalized cannabis as German imports grow. Even amid the COVID-19 crisis, Germany’s medical cannabis imports hit a record high in the fourth quarter of 2020. The country imported nearly 10,000 kilograms of legal medical cannabis in 2020.
While traditionally Morocco has supplied 70% of Europe’s demand, all of Germany’s legal imports were supplied by countries that have legalized their cannabis industry. Whereas much of the illegal market in EUrope continues to rely on untaxed exports from Morocco, the legal market is being supplied by Canada, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Spain, Australia and Israel.
Research by cannabis market insiders Prohibition Partners shows steady growth in the domestic medical cannabis market in Germany despite an otherwise difficult year for the country’s economy.
Germany’s medical cannabis market grew by 100% in 2019, and continued its growth by another 37% according to the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. Germany is adding to its import with a budding domestic industry that produced 2,600 kilograms of medical cannabis for domestic use.
The global cannabis market is rapidly evolving from a relatively unknown, yet much-hyped, economic promise, to a maturing market bringing in significant revenue.
While Europe’s demand for quality medical cannabis grows, record-breaking German imports are still only a tiny amount relative to annual Moroccan exports. Morocco continues to supply the continent with over 36,000 tons of cannabis in 2017, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The main difference between Morocco’s exports and that of Canada, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Spain, Australia and Israel is that Morocco does not tax its product and does not provide its producers with any labor protections or benefits.
The BBC has estimated that Morocco’s exports are worth €8 billion. But the Moroccan cannabis market has very little to show for itself as the government continues to postpone its decision to legalize its otherwise thriving cannabis industry.
Morocco has made it clear to the international community that it is in favor of medical cannabis when it voted at the UN to declassify the cash crop on December 2, 2020. While Morocco has voiced its opinion at the UN, it continues to drag its feet when it comes to promoting the idea of a legal cannabis industry at home.
Costly political games
No country in the world is as prepared to benefit from a growing global cannabis market as Morocco, yet years of demonization of the product have created unnecessary and unproductive taboos.
Currently, the only argument against legalizing the cannabis industry continues to be an unfortunate and reluctant alliance between conservatives and organized crime.
In a recent interview with Morocco World News, Abdellah Eid Nizar decried the political games that have repeatedly delayed the important decision. The political activist and co-founder of the Forum of Modernity and Democracy explained that “political games have turned the cannabis debate against Moroccans.”
With Morocco looking to reinvent its economy to face a daunting post-COVID-19 recovery, cannabis could be a major new industry that brings much-needed tax revenue into state coffers. A commission is currently working on a report about Morocco’s economic model that could possibly urge the government to take action on the legalization issue.
The report was expected to be published in early January but is yet to be made public.