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Morocco was among several other countries who voted in favour of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)’s rescheduling cannabis and cannabis-related substances as a less dangerous drug. The vote was cast on Wednesday at Vienna during the CND’s 63rd session.

The tightly contested poll which saw 27 votes in favour and 25 against (including one abstention) followed six World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations last year that “cannabis and cannabis resin should be scheduled at a level of control that will prevent harm caused by cannabis use and at the same time will not act as a barrier to access and to research and development of cannabis-related preparation for medical use”.

The move could potentially path the way for wider international recognition of the medical and therapeutic use of cannabis as the vote will see the drug removed from the UN’s Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs – a category of drugs which are considered among the most dangerous and highly addictive drugs.

Ambassador Khan @ambmansoorkhan, @CND_tweets Chair, opens the 63rd reconvened session – starting with the voting on @WHO scheduling recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances @[email protected]_Vienna. Webcast:

The decision has been welcomed by cannabis advocates around the world, however cannabis remains on Schedule I meaning that it is still subject to strict international controls and is still largely deemed as an illegal recreational drug.

“The medical cannabis wave has accelerated in recent years already, but this will give it another boost,” Martin Jelsma, Drugs and Democracy programme director at the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute, told Marijuana Business Daily.

Morocco was notable in being the only CND-member state from the MENA region to vote in favour and was only one of two African states to do so with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Turkey voting “No”. Other Muslim-majority countries outside the region who voted against the decision were Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan.

In April Lebanon became the first Arab country to legalise cannabis for farming and industrial purposes and in May Israel approved the exportation of medical cannabis.

However, World Morocco News reported that the legalisation of the cash crop could lead to a major economic boom for the North African country, which has been cultivating the cannabis plant for centuries. The cannabis trade in Morocco is said to be worth around $10 billion a year, supplying 70 per cent of the European cannabis market. It is also the world’s biggest producer of hashish or cannabis resin which is mainly grown and produced in northern Rif Mountains, despite a nationwide prohibition on its production. Prior to 1956 it was legal in some parts of the country.

The industry also employs an estimated 800,000 people in the country, providing a source of income for around 90,000 to 140,000 families.

The kingdom has recently been intensifying its crackdown on drug trafficking activities with sources suggesting Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has ordered the hard-line approach after previous accusations of turning a blind eye to the lucrative drug trade. Last year the number of individuals arrested in drug-related cases in Morocco reached 127,049, an increase of 38 per cent compared to the previous year and seized over 179 tonnes of cannabis.

As recently as Wednesday it was reported that Moroccan security services in the city of Fez had seized 1.3 tonnes of cannabis resin from two drug traffickers and the day before thwarted a cocaine smuggling operation in Tangier in collaboration with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Middle East Near You Morocco was among several other countries who voted in favour of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)’s rescheduling cannabis and cannabis-related substances as a less

Everything You Need to Know About Smoking Kif in Morocco

Matt Fletcher/ Getty Images

If you have been to the coffee shops of Amsterdam and tried legal hashish, it’s likely that it came from Morocco. Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of the sticky cannabis resin, and although it’s illegal to grow, harvest, possess or smoke it in the country itself, doing so is commonplace. If you’re planning a backpacking trip to Morocco, it’s likely that you will be approached at some point and offered hashish, which is known locally as kif.

For some travelers, sampling Moroccan kif in its place of origin is one of the main reasons to travel there in the first place. While TripSavvy does not encourage or endorse any illegal activity (particularly when traveling overseas), it is a fact that many people use hashish when they are in Morocco. This article aims to inform them about the issues surrounding the drug.

History of the Kif Industry

It’s not known exactly how long cannabis has been cultivated in Morocco, but the tradition is thought to have been introduced by Arabic invaders in the 7th century. Originally, cannabis farms existed to support local demand for kif, which is smoked socially in many areas of Morocco. It was legal in some parts of the country until 1956, when the newly independent government prohibited production nationwide.

Despite the ban, the kif industry continued to thrive and in the 1970s it expanded exponentially due to an influx of hippie travelers from Europe and North America. Kif farmers began growing for export and today Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of cannabis resin. Moroccan hashish, usually called Maroc, is widely sought after internationally.

Kif in the Rif Mountains

In 1890, Sultan Hassan I of Morocco gave five villages in the central Rif Mountains special permission to cultivate cannabis while restricting its growth elsewhere in the country. This established the region as the country’s premier hashish producer and today, most of Morocco’s cannabis is still grown and processed here in what has now become a multi-million-dollar industry.

In fact, the region is now so synonymous with cannabis that some of its towns have earned a reputation as havens for backpacking stoners. Mellow Chefchaouen is the most famous of these, and its blue-painted streets are often laced with the scent of weed smoke. However, not all of Rif Mountains’ towns are so safe. In places like Ketama, law enforcement are less tolerant and often pose as drug dealers – making it more likely that you’ll be caught and prosecuted.

Buying Kif in Morocco

Generally speaking, kif is readily available in many areas of Morocco. It’s especially easy to come by in Chefchaouen, the kif-smoking capital; and in the major tourist areas of big cities like Marrakesh and Fez. Dealers typically approach you and not the other way around, usually after dusk in busy places like Marrakesh’s Djemma el Fna square. As with most other wares in Morocco, haggling is expected – however, the longer the transaction takes, the higher your chances are of getting caught.

Obviously, buying illegal drugs from strangers in public places is never a good idea, no matter how tempting it may be. The language barrier makes it especially difficult to be sure of what you’re buying, you don’t know whether the hashish is pure or if it has been mixed with harmful substances and the chances of a police set-up are high. If you aren’t interested, don’t be afraid to say no politely but firmly before moving on.

Smoking Kif in Morocco

If you’re not familiar with hashish, you may be surprised by its appearance. Although it is a form of cannabis, it has been processed to resemble a sticky, brown clay which differs in color depending on the type and quality. It can be crumbled and mixed with tobacco then rolled into a joint; or smoked in a pipe. You can buy small pipes (sebsi or sibsi) or water pipes (hookahs) in most markets around Morocco.

In every Moroccan city, you will find small cafés where local men smoke their water pipes while playing cards and drinking mint tea. These places are probably the best places to smoke for men (as long as you’re accompanied by a local). Female tourists, on the other hand, will be out of place in these cafés and may feel more comfortable smoking in a stoner-friendly hostel or guesthouse. Many tourists also smoke on a beach or in other nature spots away from the general public.

Smoking in public is inadvisable and you should always avoid traveling with hashish in your possession.

Penalties for Smoking Kif

If you’re caught buying or smoking hashish, the penalty can be up to 10 years imprisonment. Although law enforcement are often tolerant of the industry (especially in known smoker towns like Chefchaouen), tourists are sometimes made an example of. If you do run into trouble, enquire about paying a spot fine rather than being arrested and taken to prison – although these fines are often pricey, they are far preferable to a night or more in a Moroccan jail.

This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on April 16 2019.

Although it's illegal, smoking hashish, or kif, is common in Morocco and many travelers end up trying it. Read about the drug and its penalties here.