Morocco made history this week, as it broke ground on what will be the North African country’s first lab for medical and industrial cannabis.
According to Morocco World News, “Bio Cannat, the first Moroccan cooperative authorized to market and export cannabis and its products for industrial and medical use, launched last week the construction work for its first laboratory.”
The outlet has more details on the historic construction project:
“In a statement on Sunday, the cooperation stressed that it had obtained authorization as part of the ten permits delivered by the National Agency for Activities Related to Cannabis in October 2022. The lab, which is now being built in the Chefchaouen region, is considered the first unit at the national. The cannabis produced by the lab will be used in many industries, including food, industrial, medical, and paramedical sectors.”
Morocco has long been known as the largest cannabis producer in the world –– a distinction that was confirmed last year by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
But it was not until 2021 that the Moroccan government brought its official policy in line with that output.
That year, the country adopted a “law authorizing the therapeutic use of cannabis, a major reform for this North African country considered as one of the first producers of hashish in the world,” according to Africa News.
“The legal use implies means (sic) it can only be used in medicine, cosmetics and even for industrial purposes,” the outlet explained at the time. “The law was adopted by the House of Representatives with 119 votes in support and 48 against. Recreational use remains prohibited and subject to prosecution.”
Last fall, Morocco’s National Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis Activities (ANRAC), an agency that was created to oversee the newly established legal cannabis industry, issued the first 10 cannabis cultivation and production permits.
The permits enable farmers to grow and process cannabis through a constellation of agricultural collectives that will be under strict government supervision and regulation. ANRAC also gave the go-ahead for certain companies to market and export marijuana.
Bio Cannat was a recipient of one of those 10 permits. The coop said in a statement that the new lab will include “agricultural experiments with some of the farmers in the Chefchaouen region, who are involved in agricultural cooperatives to provide the raw material after providing the seeds intended for this purpose,” as quoted by Morocco World News.
Moroccan authorities continue to crack down on illicit cannabis cultivation and trafficking.
In December, the country’s General Directorate of National Security announced a major drug bust, saying that law enforcement officials had confiscated more than two tons of cannabis.
The agency explained that a “joint security operation between the judicial police and the interests of the General Directorate of National Territorial Surveillance … resulted in the abortion of an attempt to smuggle international goods of two tons and 120 kilograms of shira, and the seizure of an inflatable boat and equipment used in maritime navigation.”
The Morocco World News reported last year that law enforcement there has “been intensifying its efforts against drug trafficking.”
“Last year, Moroccan police handled 82,950 cases related to the possession and trafficking of drugs. Security services sent 103,589 people to court, including 261 foreigners,” the outlet reported at the time. “During the same year, police seized 191 tonnes and 158 kilograms of cannabis, which is one of the most common drugs in Morocco. The amount of cannabis seized in 2021, represents a decrease of 12% compared to 2020.”