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Morocco's Marijuana Farms May Become Legal

Decriminalizing cannabis would help exports
Cannabis plants in northern Morocco’s Larache province
Cannabis plants in northern Morocco’s Larache provincePhotograph by Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Mustapha Tahiri, a cannabis farmer in northern Morocco, looks forward to the day he can sell his crop without worrying about jail. His country’s legislators may soon grant his wish. “I’d be a lot happier if the state leaves us alone,” says Tahiri, a father of seven whose home in the village of Beni Gmil was raided by government forces last year.

At least 800,000 Moroccans live off what Tahiri calls “the herb.” Illegal marijuana farming generates annual sales estimated at $10 billion, according to the Moroccan Network for the Industrial and Medicinal Use of Marijuana, a nonprofit founded in 2008. That’s equal to 10 percent of Morocco’s economy. “We can’t carry on ignoring this big elephant in the room,” says Khadija Rouissi, a lawmaker from the opposition Authenticity and Modernity Party.