Morocco is widely known to produce some of the best hash in the world. Although the specific origin of its cultivation is unknown, it is generally believed to have come from the Arab invasions of Maghreb, between the 15th and 17th centuries. Its early production was for local use, grown in orchards and gardens. Hashish or kief is commonly smoked with Black Tobacco, through a “Sebsi Pipe”, mixed into food or used in Sufi rituals.
The regulations on cannabis cultivation in Morocco are strict, however, production privileges were given to a number of Rif tribes until the 1950s, when King Mohammed V prohibited the plant across the nation.
MOROCCAN HASHISH GOES GLOBAL
Commercial production of hashish came about during the 60’s and 70’s when Morocco became a hotbed for Western tourists who sought to enjoy the product. As the demand caught on, so did the production techniques, which allowed for the demand to be met across the Mediterranean and Europe.
The UN estimates tens of thousands of people rely on cannabis cultivation for a living in the Rif region, allowing the country to be one of the world’s top suppliers of hashish. But still the consequences of this kind of operation remain severe. Many farmers report being blackmailed by gendarmeries for their silence, while the kief or hashish sells locally for around $8 per kilo.
Big profits go to European buyers and smugglers who can sell the product for around €5-10 per gram or more in Europe. Today, smuggling can be a bit less risky process because of the decriminalisation of cannabis in neighbouring countries such as Spain and Portugal.
DECRIMINALIZATION IN MOROCCO?
Decriminalisation in Morocco has been on the cards for quite some time for a number of reasons. Some politicians understand the economic benefits of the plant, while health officials are interested in its use as a commercial medicine. On the other hand, many farmers remain sceptical of this kind of move, because they fear their entire crop would be taken by a state agency, processing factories would be set up and production of the illustrious hashish would no longer be possible. This would mean the farmers would earn less than they already are.
On the other hand, cannabis could be a driver for the economy, offering up new jobs to the public and allowing for a regulation, which removes much of the corruption involved, moreover it would mean people could get access to a much needed medicine and resource.
Regardless of what happens with the law, the farmers of the Rif mountains will always be allured by cannabis crops. There are heavy droughts in the region, which kill most crops, but allow the cannabis plant to thrive.