In Morocco, areas dedicated to cannabis cultivation are shrinking

The latest statistics on cannabis cultivation in Morocco were presented Wednesday. After a long and significant decline, the areas dedicated to cannabis cultivation are shrinking.

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Illustration photo./Ph. AFP

Between 47 000 and 50 000 hectares, mainly in the Rif valleys, are dedicated to cannabis cultivation in Morocco. These are the numbers presented at a meeting held on Wednesday by the National Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

The area devoted to the cultivation of cannabis has been stabilized in the pest ten years, reports the Spanish news agency EFE. Well before this stabilization, Morocco experienced a drastic reduction of the area dedicated to cannabis cultivation : from more than 134 000 ha in 2003, it was reduced to 72 500 ha in 2005, then to 47 000 ha in 2013, according to recent statistics. A sharp drop that can be explained by the pressure exerted by international organizations on Morocco.

In addition to the fact that lands dedicated to cannabis cultivation shrunk, the number of seizures increased. Last week, 13 tons and 750 kilograms of cannabis resin were seized at the Tangier Med port by the national security services.

Leading producer of cannabis resin

In 2013, 70 seizures had been conducted by the Moroccan authorities, preventing the sale of 25 tons of cannabis resin. That year, Morocco was the second country where the most seizures were made, far behind Spain, one of the main routes allowing the entrance of Moroccan cannabis in Europe. In the continent, 1 197 seizures took place with more than 125 tons of cannabis resin, says a report published in 2013 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

However, the internal and external difficulties remain persistent, sources present at the meeting told the Spanish news agency. The reasons given are «the 3 500 kilometers of coastline that are very difficult to monitor 24 hours a day», to which is added «the constant demand for hashish in the European market».

The UNODC's survey of 2003, first of its kind and funded by the Moroccan government, revealed that 134 000 ha dedicated to cannabis, mainly concentrated in «Chefchaouen province (50%), Taounate (19%), Al Hoceima (17%), Larache (9%) and Tetouan (5%)».

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