MOROCCO – The National Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis-Related Activities (ANRAC) in Morocco has accorded 50 new licenses to 20 players in the cannabis sector to enable them to carry out legal activities related to this controversial plant.

Morocco, the world’s leading supplier of resin, issued the first 10 permits for the use of cannabis in industry, medicine, and export in October last year after a law passed in 2021. The new law, passed by the country’s Parliament, does not permit its use for recreation.

The law is intended to improve farmers’ incomes and protect them from drug traffickers who control the cannabis trade and export it illegally to Europe.

Farmers who organize into cooperatives in the northern mountain areas of Al Houceima, Taounat, and Chefchaouen will be gradually allowed to grow cannabis to meet the needs of the legal market, the agency said.

Morocco and Mauritius (passed a law in November 2022) joined a growing number of African countries, such as South Africa, Rwanda, and Ghana amongst others, that have legalized the dispensing of cannabis or its extracts to people suffering from a range of medical conditions.

With the ANRAC granting, the Moroccan sector now has 35 operators operating legally in cannabis and who hold more than 100 operational licenses.

According to Moroccan drug expert Dr. Khalid Tinasti, the export potential is likely to be limited, given that the international market for medicinal cannabis appears to be saturated.

Could the saturation force Morocco to shift its law to tap into the cannabis-infused F&B market projected to grow at a CAGR of 24.3% to reach US$82.3 billion by 2027 by GlobalNews Wire, just like Thailand?

Thailand legalized the growing of marijuana and its consumption of food and drinks in June 2022, becoming the first Asian country, with an aim of boosting its agriculture and tourism sectors, but smoking is still against the law.

Shoppers queued up at outlets selling cannabis-infused drinks, sweets and other items as advocates of the plant welcomed the reform in a country that has long had a reputation for strict anti-drug laws.

queueing at one Bangkok shop, Rittipong Dachkul, 24, said: “We’re now able to find it easy, we don’t have to worry about the source, but I have no idea about the quality, (referring to the strength of the products on offer).”

Agro-industrial conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl and energy firm Gunkul Engineering have teamed up to produce food and drinks infused with the extract.

The government, banking on the plant as a cash crop, plans to give away a million plants to encourage farmers to take up its cultivation.

The health ministry said it approved 1,181 products including cosmetics and food, containing cannabis extracts and it expects that the industry will earn as much as 15 billion baht ($435.16 million) by 2026.

However, the country’s authorities aim to head off an explosion of recreational use by limiting the strength of the products on offer.

The possession and sale of cannabis extracts contain more than 0.2 percent of its psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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