Morocco‘s government has announced that it will soon be legalizing the production of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes.
Once the approval is secured farmers would then be allowed to farm so the cannabis can be exported and used domestically.
The government is hopeful this move will lift up impoverished farmers in the Rif mountains amid a growing legal global market for the drug.
Cannabis is mostly grown in the northern Rif mountains of Morocco.
Growing the plant is currently illegal but the production has been overlooked by authorities with Morocco among the top global producers of cannabis.
The bill covering the legal frame work for the production of cannabis in Morocco will get cabinet approval in March, according to local media reporting.
Improving farmers’ incomes and protecting them from drug traffickers are priority areas in the bill.
But the Parliament dominated by moderate Islamist PJD must still approve the plan even after cabinet approval.
There have been many failed attempts in the past to legalise cannabis farming in Morocco.
The current co-ruling PJD party however has majority members in parliament and appears to support the idea to legalize the plant after the U.N. drug agency removed it from its list of most tightly controlled narcotic drugs.
Many African countries are now going ahead with the change in legislation to allow for commercial production of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Rwanda last year joined countries like Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa who have already changed their laws on narcotics.
Cannabis Sativa has over 50,000 industrial uses, including being used as a cheaper alternative to cotton, paper car dashboards, and building houses and for medicinal purposes.
The Global Cannabis market is estimated currently at over US$ 100 billion and estimate for the next five years peg the market size at a staggering $ 300 billion.
The legal cannabis industry could be worth more than $7 billion by 2023 should more counties in Africa legalize the substance.
Marijuana still remains deeply ingrained in African tradition, recreation and economies.
Although illegal to posses it in Africa, cannabis is an important source of income for many.
Many African countries had tried to limit the use of marijuana but in recent years due to the lucrative nature of it, laws on the substance are changing.