HomeNewsMedical cannabis: what opportunities for Morocco?

Medical cannabis: what opportunities for Morocco?

The Government Council, meeting on Thursday 11 March, adopted the draft law n°13.21 on the legal use of cannabis. The text will be presented to Parliament next week. The 1st and 2nd Chambers are also called to accelerate the entry into force of this promising text.

It’s done: the Government Council, meeting this Thursday, March 11, by videoconference, under the chairmanship of the Head of Government, Saad Dine El Otmani, adopted the bill No. 13.21 on the legal uses of cannabis. The announcement was made by the government spokesman, Saaid Amzazi, Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, in a statement read during a press briefing after the council.

The text in Parliament next week

The text should therefore be presented to Parliament next week. The first and second chambers are also called to speed up the entry into force of this promising text. El Otmani and his team have indeed put double efforts on this file.

Since February 25, the text has been high on the agenda of the Government Council. That is to say that not a week has passed without the bill on the legal uses of cannabis being examined by the government team. Thus, in the space of three weeks, that is to say less than a month, the government has completed the first stage of the circuit of adoption of a text of great economic, social and health importance. Economic importance, because the development of medical cannabis will require the installation of large international operators (processing industry) and the development of a dedicated national industrial sector, generating jobs and wealth (see box on the ten opportunities). At the social level, the draft law on the legal use of cannabis will establish legal crops that will improve the well-being of the population, which is currently penalized by the generalized fear of prosecution and by the idleness of young people, a corollary of school failure. While at the health level, the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes would help in many diseases. “Cannabis contains many “beneficial” substances, in particular cannabidiol (CBD), likely to help a certain number of people suffering, for example, of multiple sclerosis, epilepsy resistant to any treatment or cancer in
terminal cancer”, it is explained.

All the ingredients are there

In the meantime, it is necessary to legislate in order to start this activity on the right track, for which Morocco has all the necessary factorial endowments. The cultivation lands are numerous and as far as the eye can see on the national territory. The growers, who are currently playing cat and mouse with the agents of the repression of frauds are also present in the four corners of the country. And the export market, the main one, in this case the European Union, is very close. The bill on the legal uses of cannabis will therefore work to regulate all these aspects and many others. As a reminder, it provides for the creation of a national agency in charge of the execution of the State’s strategy for the cultivation, production, processing and marketing of cannabis for medical, cosmetic and industrial use.

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We must move quickly

Called the “Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis Activities”, this new structure will be responsible for monitoring legal cannabis in all stages of its production, processing, import, export and marketing chain, in particular with the aim of ensuring that it is not used in illegal activities and that illicit cannabis is not used in legal activities. Granting, renewing and withdrawing licenses in accordance with the provisions of the bill, and monitoring on the ground all operations related to licit cannabis and the stock of licit cannabis, are also among the main tasks of this agency. But that’s not all! The future agency will also provide the competent international body with the evaluations and information requested in accordance with Morocco’s international obligations, after consultation with the various competent government authorities.

In addition to participating in the supervision of authorized cannabis producers and in the development of alternative activities for the benefit of the population engaged in illicit cannabis, the Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis Activities will conduct and publish studies and research related to cannabis and will contribute to publicizing the Kingdom’s efforts in the field of licit cannabis and its derivatives and to strengthening bilateral, regional and international cooperation in this context.

The future agency will also be responsible for developing, in consultation with the ministerial departments concerned, the specifications of good production practices, to be respected by operators of each activity of the sector, and monitor their compliance by these operators. These specifications concern the rules and good practices of cultivation, production, processing, industrialization, preparation and storage of Indian hemp according to the standards in force; the standards to be respected for the transport of Indian hemp and its derivatives; the operations authorized for its processing; technical standards and those related to quality control and production efficiency; environmental constraints; techniques for packaging the product, storage and quality maintenance; and procedures for tracing the quantities of cannabis received and those that have been transferred and manufactured.

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It will be quick for the standards

In short, these books will have a dual purpose: to determine the good practices of cultivation, production and manufacturing to be respected throughout the value chain to ensure compliance of domestic products with international requirements in this area, including those in force in target markets (Europe mainly), and ensure transparency and fairness in monitoring the conditions for each type of activity (cultivation, transportation, processing, etc.). Regarding the standards, “they will be, of course, after the entry into force of the law. But I can tell you that it will go very quickly, because we have already thought about it. It’s simple, we will act within the framework of international cooperation with the standardization institutes of the United States or Canada,” says Abderrahim Taïbi, director of the Moroccan Institute of Standardization (IMANOR).

What about the chemical challenge?

According to Driss Moussaoui, professor of psychiatry and former director of the Ibn Rochd University Psychiatric Center, cannabis contains many “beneficial” substances, in particular cannabidiol (CBD), which can help a number of people suffering from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy resistant to any treatment or in the terminal stages of cancer, etc. According to him, “we must distinguish CBD from delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), because the latter poses a problem because it has an action on both the mental and psychic. In particular, it causes a decrease in concentration and cognitive faculties and increases the risk of falling into schizophrenia in people with genetic vulnerability. Regarding the extraction of CBD, the only providential substance in cannabis, Moussaoui says he has “no doubt that we have quality chemists and pharmacologists who will be able to handle this type of work”. “People who grow cannabis will have to do it legally, under the control of the government and security services, and there will, of course, be CBD extraction plants to give it in a medically controlled way to those who need it.” “Therefore, there is no reason not to add CBD to the Moroccan pharmacopoeia,” he concluded.

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1- The global medical cannabis market is growing steadily: the average annual growth forecast is around 30% internationally and 60% in Europe.

2- A large number of countries, particularly in Europe, have legalized medical cannabis, and most of them have even legalized recreational cannabis: 30 American states, Canada, Australia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Brazil, Honduras, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, India, China, Lebanon, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Lesotho, Ghana, etc…

3- The opportunities for the development of medical, cosmetic and industrial cannabis in Morocco are real and promising, given the assets that the Kingdom has (ecosystem: soil and climate conducive, proximity
the booming European market, ancestral know-how of traditional farmers, etc. …).

4- These opportunities should be seized quickly given the current strong trend of legalization of medical and recreational cannabis in the world in general and in Europe in particular.

5- The rapid realization of these opportunities requires first the installation in Morocco of large international operators (processing industry) and then the development of a national industrial sector.

6- Legal cannabis cultivation will be a unifying element for populations involved in illicit cultivation.

7- They will gradually remove them from the grip of traffickers and allow them to integrate into the national economy.

8- These licit crops will also improve the well-being of the population, which is still penalized by the generalized fear of legal proceedings, and by the idleness of young people, a corollary of school failure.

9- These legal crops will also mitigate the harmful consequences of illegal crops on the environment (deforestation, depletion of soil and water resources, pollution of groundwater, etc.) and on public health.

10- The creation of an adequate legal framework is the main prerequisite for the development of legal cannabis activities. (MAP) Ten main opportunities for the development of legal cannabis in Morocco.