RABAT, Morocco (AP) – The Moroccan government on Thursday approved a historic bill legalizing the non-recreational use of marijuana.
Largely driven by growing international demand for medical-industrial cannabis, the move will make the North African Kingdom one of the world’s leading producers of a regulated market for an industry long dominated by drug dealers.
The bill, which was approved by the government after many delays, will now be submitted to parliament. Some members of the powerful Islamist Justice and Development Party oppose the bill, but others support it, including the prime minister.
If it passes, Morocco will become one of the few countries in the region or the Arab world to legalize non-recreational drug use. Re-use of the internet will remain illegal.
Morocco seeks to establish a regulatory framework for the entire chain of cannabis cultivation, production, processing and sales for medical, cosmetic and industrial uses, such as textiles or paper.
The bill should also create a state body to ensure the use of preferential cannabis in illegal activities.
The canopy has been cultivated for centuries in Morocco, and in 2003 it covered an area of 134,000 hectares (more than 330,000 acres), mainly in the northern Reef region. Government-developed land has been reduced to 47,000 hectares (about 116,000 acres) since 2014, according to government data.
The push for legalization has gained momentum in the country after the UN Commission on Drugs voted in December to remove cannabis from the world’s most dangerous drug categories.