Rabat – Morocco, Europe’s largest cannabis supplier, is falling behind countries that have legalized cannabis as German imports rise. Even during the COVID-19 crisis, imports of medical cannabis in Germany reached a record high in the fourth quarter of 2020. The country imported nearly 10,000 kilograms of legal medical cannabis in 2020.
While Morocco has traditionally met 70% of European demand, all of Germany’s legal imports have been supplied by countries that have legalized their cannabis industry. While much of the illegal market in EUrope is still based on untaxed exports from Morocco, the legal market is supplied by Canada, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Spain, Australia and Israel.
Studies by insiders of the cannabis market Prohibition Partners show a steady growth of the domestic market for medical cannabis in Germany despite an otherwise difficult year for the country’s economy.
The German market for medical cannabis grew by 100% in 2019 and, according to the Federal Agency for Drugs and Medical Devices, continued to grow by a further 37%. Germany is stepping up its imports with an emerging domestic industry that produced 2,600 kilograms of medicinal cannabis for domestic use.
The global cannabis market is rapidly evolving from a relatively unknown but much-invoked economic promise to a mature market that is generating substantial revenues.
While Europe’s demand for high quality medical cannabis is growing, the record breaking German imports are still a tiny amount compared to annual Moroccan exports. Morocco continued to supply the continent with over 36,000 tons of cannabis in 2017, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The main difference between Morocco’s exports and those of Canada, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Spain, Australia and Israel is that Morocco does not tax its product and does not offer any labor protection or benefits to its manufacturers.
The BBC has estimated that Morocco’s exports are worth 8 billion euros. The Moroccan cannabis market has very little to offer, however, as the government continues to postpone its decision to legalize the otherwise thriving cannabis industry.
Morocco made it clear to the international community that it is for medicinal cannabis when it voted to clear the cash harvest at the United Nations on December 2, 2020. While Morocco has voiced its opinion at the United Nations, it pulls its feet further when it comes to promoting the idea of a legal cannabis industry at home.
Expensive political games
No country in the world is as ready to benefit from a growing global cannabis market as Morocco, but years of demonizing the product has resulted in unnecessary and unproductive taboos.
For now, the only argument against legalizing the cannabis industry remains an unfortunate and reluctant alliance between conservatives and organized crime.
In a recent interview with Morocco World News, Abdellah Eid Nizar condemned the political games that repeatedly delayed the important decision. The political activist and co-founder of the Forum for Modernism and Democracy said that “political games have turned the cannabis debate against Moroccans”.
As Morocco seeks to reinvent its economy to face a daunting post-COVID-19 recovery, cannabis could be a major new industry that brings much-needed tax revenue into the treasury. A commission is currently working on a report on the Moroccan economic model that could potentially urge the government to take action on the legalization issue.
The report should be published in early January but has yet to be published.