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Morocco: Europe's Biggest Cannabis Supplier

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Morocco: Europe's Biggest Cannabis Supplier
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By Bill Griffin, New Frontier Data Europe

Europe is set to be the most valuable cannabis market thanks to its vast and rich population. It's no surprise then the rest of the world all have ambitions to be their number one supplier.

Africa, in particular, is ideally positioned to capitalize on a relaxation of European cannabis laws being located just next door. This could drastically drive down the price of this emerging raw commodity. A Ugandan trading company recently announced they are on the path to exporting medical cannabis products into Europe after verification of meeting GAP and other standards.

However, one African nation, Morocco, is already the world's largest supplier of cannabis to Europe, albeit illicitly. The BBC calculates this illegal trade to be worth approximately €8 billion.

UNODC determines Moroccan cannabis production in 2017 was over 36,000 tons, dwarfing all other countries output. The majority of this is processed into cannabis resin (hash). To put that figure into perspective, the same report estimates Mexico produced a little over 5,000 tons in the same year.

"[European cannabis] Resin potency has shown a continuous increase since 2009. Drivers of this increasing average potency in resin likely include the introduction of high-potency plants and new production techniques in Morocco, and, to a lesser extent, the greater use within Europe of resin extraction techniques that provide higher potency products," says EMCDDA in their 2019 European Drug report. EMCDDA also highlight that most of the hash in Europe originates from Morocco.

A sign that production is so vast in Morocco is the size of cannabis seizures, most of which are measured by the ton. In July 2019, Moroccan police seized a record 27.3 tons in one haul. The UN's International Narcotics Control Board, says in their 2018 annual report that in 2017 400 tons of cannabis (herb and hash) were seized, the greatest figure in all African nations and almost as high as all resin seizures in the whole of Europe, which according to EMCCA was 466 tons.

As it is a black market there are no quality assurances. Spanish researchers tested 90 samples obtained in Madrid and found that 88 percent were contaminated with harmful bacteria found in fecal matter.

In 1956, with the new independence of Morocco, King Mohammed V prohibited cannabis nationwide. But in the 60s and 70s it became a popular destination for tourists seeking quality hashish, particularly in the Rif mountains. Once a taboo topic, more recently calls have been increasing for Morocco to legalise the production of cannabis for medicinal and adult use.

There has been a trend towards an increased investment in Africa regarding cannabis. In legal markets such as Lesotho, a small landlocked nation in South Africa, with Supreme, Canopy Growth and Halo Labs all investing there.

With cannabis being illegal in Morocco there is no way to legitimately invest in this sector directly. However, Morocco is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer. Should cannabis regulations change in Europe along the lines of what we see in parts of Americas, Morocco would be ideally positioned to see a huge influx in investment to build the infrastructure necessary to serve this lucrative market. Potentially moving beyond cannabis resin to more refined innovative delivery systems such as concentrates, edibles and other cannabis derived products.

Should this happen it could prove problematic for investors and operators who have invested heavily in European production facilities, particularly if the market gets flooded with supply and prices decline at a rapid pace.

As EMCCA points out in their 2018 drug report, "It is unclear what the implications for Europe will be if a large legal market for this drug develops in parts of the Americas, but an impact on patterns of supply or use in Europe cannot be ruled out."

The post Morocco: Europe's Biggest Cannabis Supplier appeared first on New Frontier Data.

Image Sourced from Pixabay

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Posted-In: cannabis industry European UnionCannabis News Eurozone Global Markets General

 

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