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Published on 10 December 2008  by encod


Finally the debate on cannabis legalisation in Morocco is becoming a reality. The second TV channel of national Moroccan Television (2M) on Wednesday 3 December 2008 broadcasted a live debate on the various possible approaches towards cannabis cultivation in Morocco, entitled « Cannabis and haschisch : Which approach to take?.

By: Souliman Sbai

All the versions of this article: [français] [English] [Español]

The purpose of the debate was to inform the public on the reality behind cannabis cultivation and to try to assess the governmental strategies to erradicate this cultivation and the fight against the smuggling of hashish, by putting these questions : to which degree have alternative development projects been able to support the populations in replacing their illicit "traditions" ? Is it possible to direct the cultivation of cannabis towards therapeutical and industrial uses and, in a general way, towards an alternative economy in these regions? What is the role of regional amd international co-operation in this domain?

Participants in this debate were Khalid Zerouali, executive director of migration and customs, Chakib Al Khayari, president of the Association for Human Rights in the Rif region, Pr. Mohamed Hmamouchi, director of the National Institute of Medicinal Plants, Hamid El Farouki, director of development at the Agency for Promotion and Development of the Northern Region and Abderrahman Merzouki, researcher.

Erradication of cannabis fields

In their interventions, Khalid Zerouali and Hamid El Farouki evaluated the erradication operations in cannabis producing regions in the North of Morocco. They announced that production had diminished with 55 %, a figure that Chakib Al Khayari characterised as "non-realistic". He informed about new cannabis fields that have not yet been counted, located in the north of Ketama towards Al-Jabha and the rural community of Beni Abdallah (35 km west of Al Hoceima), and this same view was supported by Abderrahman Merzouki. The latter denounced several violations of human rights against farmers whose fields were erradicated, and he requested the inmediate replacement of this security approach by a social approach.

On the other hand, Khalid Zerouali declared that erradication of cannabis had been successfull in the Larach region that was declared to be without cannabis. Operations in Taounate and Chaouen will soon obtain the same results. He also clarified that cannabis in these regions has taken over the cultivation of licit productive crops and has caused deforestation, which other participants confirmed as well. All expressed the wish not to let the same thing happen again, in order to protect the environment and enhance food security in the region.

Alternative projects

In relation to this, Chakib Al Khayari mentioned some efforts that the Moroccan state had made since 1980 in collaboration with UN agencies. The objective was to replace cannabis cultivation with other licit crops, but although some spare profits have been made, the awaited results have not been obtained. This has been reported in the assessments of these projects, which show that the experiences of alternative development projects in the Moroccan Rif Region are limited, not to say that they have failed. This failure has been caused by economic and cultural problems that are not taken into consideration in the design and implementation of these projects.

Al Khayari insisted that it is impossible to erradicate cannabis in Ketama because of the cultural dimension of this plant that remounts to centuries ago, even before the Rif was invaded by the Arabs, as even in the moussem of Tidghin the porters of the Koran pray to God to protect their sacred plant.

In the same sense Khalid Zerouali declared that the State in all its approaches and strategies should take the cultural context into consideration. This context should never be ignored. Also the lack of inftrastructure is a real problem for the success of alternative crops, so other activities that may be profitable such as mountain tourism should be developed.

On the other hand, Pr. Hmamouchi showed that there are real difficulties for developing alternative economies in the regions of Ketama, due to the total lack of basic infrastructure as a result of the historical marginalisation of the Rif region in general. He proposed to make use of the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) in order to create projects that may help cannabis regions, both traditional and new, to find a way out of their isolation and marginalisation.

Cannabis legalisation

After having discussed several problems related to alternative development projects based on cannabis erradication, Chakib Al Khayari proposed the idea of legalising cannabis as the only practical solution for the historical cannabis regions, insisting on a legal framework that would regulate these plantations, in view of the results of scientific research into the medical, industrial and human development fields.

This idea was supported by Pr. Hmamouchi who mentioned some applications of cannabis in the medical and industrial field, and insisted on the obligation to install a legal framework for the exploitation of this plant for the interest of the country.

Finally, Khalid Zerouali appreciated this idea for the historical cannabis regions and agreed to discuss it in a more profound way with the participation of civil society, in an effort to make an end to illicit drug trafficking.

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  • 31 Harms of Cannabis Prohibition Perhaps it will serve the debate in Morocco and elsewhere to compile a list of the many harms of Cannabis prohibition. Certainly there are more than these. I invite others to add to the list or modify what is listed to be more effective. The list will be updated and posted to the California Cannabis Ministry blog periodically. Also, anyone who may be interested in my idea for a global network of Compassionate Cultural Centers is invited to make contact at projectpeaceatyahoo.com 1. Induces essential resource scarcity and inefficiency, by limiting the regional, sustainable production and dependable availability of several bio-fuels, including cellulosic hydrogen and ethanol, pyrolytic charcoal, diesel seed oil, methane gas, and compost heat. 2. Induces essential resource scarcity by limiting the production and availability of unique and essential foods, including both of the essential fatty acids, the best available source of organic vegetable protein, critically important vitamins, minerals and all of the essential amino acids. 3. Induces essential resource scarcity by limiting the production and availability of affordable, recyclable and biodegradable building materials for humans. 4. Reduces the carrying capacity of wildlife habitat by reducing the availability of essential food and cover. 5. Institutionalizes a black market economy in god-given herbs by misidentifying them as "drugs." 6. Corrupts governments, locally and globally. 7. Creates radical resource disparity, that inevitably leads to wars over energy, water and other essential natural resources. 8. Creates an economic vacuum that has addicted and corrupted our economic system to be dependent on toxic, unevenly distributed, finite resources. 9. Degrades the environment on regional and global levels. "Global Broiling" by increasing UV-B radiation is perhaps the least discussed example of "extinctionistic" effects that mankind’s addiction to chemicals is already having. 10. Engenders poverty, illness and violence, where abundance, health and peace could otherwise exist. 11. Causes epidemic malnutrition. 12. Threatens everyone’s health by inducing essential food scarcity, which obviates optimum human development and potential. 13. Perverts human social evolution toward synergistic collapse of environment, economics, and social structures. 14. Largely responsible for the rise of GMOs, having created protein shortages. 15. Economically and politically empowers the least conscious 16. Disrespects and interferes with science 17. Institutionalizes disrespect for Nature 18. Inhibits free individual spiritual evolution 19. Robs us of our Natural Rights, upon which our government was founded. 20. Robs other creatures, with whom we share this planet, of an unique and essential food and shelter resource. 21. Creates conditions of acceptance for government misinformation, destroying the credibility of government. 22. Accelerates the spread of HIV/AIDS between infected mothers and nursing infants. 23. Creates a "forbidden fruit" which makes adolescent experimentation with ’marijuana’ and other psychoactive substances more likely. 24. Makes the wild places into war zones, driving illegal growers further and further back into remote wilderness areas. 25. Interferes with regeneration of damaged lands, and expansion of the global arable base. 26. Cripples organic agriculture by banning safe, potentially abundant biogenic pesticides and effective, rotational crop management. 27. Violates respect for previous generations who sacrificed so much for the freedoms we are losing in the name of the counter-productive, hypocritical, selective and expensive "drug war." 28. Results, on average, in the pointless death of one police officer per month, who waste their lives enforcing anti-Constitutional laws that are counter-productive to their own stated objectives. 29. Constricts the global agricultural production of atmospheric aerosols called "monoterpenes" which have been shown to reflect solar radiation away from the planet, and seed cloud formation to protect the Earth from "global broiling" by increasing UV-B radiation. 30. Inhibits the use of a safe and effective herbal therapeutic by people who are intimidated by the misinformation and violence that characterizes ’marijuana’ prohibition. 31. Destroys families, fundamentally fracturing the global social structure. Paul J. von Hartmann California Cannabis Ministry http://www.californiacannabisministry.blogspot.com Project P.E.A.C.E. Planet Ecology Advancing Conscious Economics http://www.webspawner.com/users/projectpeace

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The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, is a pan-European network of currently 160 NGO’s and individual experts involved in the drug issue on a daily base. We are the European section of an International Coalition, which consists of more than 400 NGOs from around the world that have adhered to a Manifesto for Just and Effective Drug Policies (established in 1998). Among our members are organisations of cannabis and other drug users, of health workers, researchers, grassroot activists as well as companies.

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