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Rabat – Morocco urged the international community to include the global fight against challenges related to drugs in post-COVID-19 recovery strategies.
The country’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Azzeddine Farhane stressed the need during the 64th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which is taking place in Vienna from April 12-16.
Farhane emphasized the necessity for “effective and efficient sub-regional, regional and international cooperation” to fight against the phenomenon. He also highlighted the importance to work multilaterally to address the challenges of drug trafficking and abuse worldwide.
“It is imperative to mobilize to ensure that the world drug problem is high on the agenda of the post-COVID-19 recovery strategies, given that the drug issue remains a shared responsibility and must be addressed in a multilateral framework through effective and efficient sub-regional, regional and international cooperation,” he said during the general debate.
He also noted that Morocco’s efforts in drug control proved their effectiveness despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the country’s strategy, he said, authorities have succeeded in arresting suspects for illicit international drug trafficking and seizing large amounts of drugs such as cannabis, not lowering vigilance in light of the pandemic.
He also pointed to efforts to address the problem of demand, through approaches such as educational programs at schools, and providing access to addiction treatment.
Many experts say that fighting against drugs produces more problems than drug use itself. According to Ernestien Jensema and Katie Sandwell, “the negative consequences of the international attempt to control the use and production of substances are often more harmful than the drugs themselves.”
Governments are increasingly giving attention to demand to complement supply-side control efforts, such as Morocco’s education and addiction treatment programs.
In its 2019 report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) praised Morocco’s efforts to fight against drug trafficking and consumption.
On the supply side, according to Morocco’s General Directorate of National Security (DGSN), the Moroccan police seized, in 2020, 132 kilograms of cocaine, 476,923 psychotropic pills, 8.5 kilograms of heroin, and more than 217 tonnes of cannabis.
Legal use of cannabis
While Morocco continues to intensify its efforts against international drug trafficking and the challenges of drug abuse on Moroccan soil, it recently took a step to redefine the legality of one of the most common drugs in the country.
Morocco’s government announced on March 11 the adoption of a bill authorizing the “medical, cosmetic and industrial” use of cannabis. The country is among the first African countries to pass such legislation.
The recreational use of the drug will remain illegal in Morocco.
The bill sets guidelines and rules for cannabis production and ensures product quality and social protection for cannabis producers.
The bill aims to regulate legal activities related to cannabis cultivation, production, manufacture, transport, and exchange activities with other countries.
According to Minister of Interior Abdelouafi Laftit, “the legalization will create various economic opportunities for Morocco to expand its market internationally.”
The adoption of the bill made a significant impact to help de-escalate discussions about this long-standing taboo. Many observers expect the legislation will support a heightened focus on drugs classified as more dangerous, lessen the human impact of the war on drugs, and support the economy.