The government of Morocco is currently negotiating with Israeli officials to normalize trade relations between the two countries. But according to a recent report from Arab News, an Israeli company, Tikun Olam, is already providing medical cannabis and other -related services to Morocco. “Tikun Olam is a company that is currently operating in the field of cannabis and cannabis derivatives in the country,” said Dr. Andrei Shketman, a Hebrew University professor specializing in the subject.

Israel is already a medical marijuana super-power, but it’s now circling Morocco, a Maghreb state that has decriminalized the plant’s use, in the hope of luring the cannabis capital away from Europe. The two countries have a long history of mutual distrust, and while the Israelis are unlikely to get bogged down in the Moroccan government’s ongoing cannabis prohibition, the discovery of cannabis-rich soil could pave the way to the nation’s cannabis legalization.

CannaTech is a relatively new industry in Morocco, and it has been rapidly growing since the beginning of 2017. The legal framework for the industry is still in its infancy, however, the country has been keen on exploring the potential of this new sector. This is why the Moroccan government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Israeli government regarding the cooperation in the cannabis industry.

Morocco has moved closer to creating a legal cannabis industry with parliament’s approval this month of a law legalizing medical, cosmetic and industrial cannabis. The Interior Ministry bill regulates activities related to the cultivation, production, manufacture, transportation and sale of cannabis, as well as its export and import for medical and therapeutic purposes. The National Cannabis Regulatory Agency was created to issue permits for all cannabis-related activities.

Morocco is considered one of the most stable countries in the Mediterranean and North Africa. In December 2020, Israel and Morocco formally normalized a long-standing informal relationship that has boosted Israeli tourism and business ties over the years. But the connection between Morocco and Israel goes far beyond a few tourists and fortune seekers.

Morocco was once home to a large Jewish population, which in the sixth century was the largest in the world. Century v. Chr. fled from ancient Israel. When Israel was recognized as a state in 1948, the Jewish community in Morocco numbered about 250,000. In the following decades, most Moroccan Jews emigrated to Israel and became one of the most important cultural groups in the country. Even today, Moroccan culture continues to influence the culinary, musical, commercial and religious spheres of Israel. After normalizing relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, no one was surprised by the handshake between Israel and Morocco.

Cannabis regulation will help farmers

The black market for cannabis in Morocco represents an important part of the country’s informal economy. In 2018, the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board reported that 400 tons of cannabis were seized from Morocco in 2017, accounting for nearly 86 percent of seizures across Europe. In 2017, more than 107,000 people were prosecuted for drug-related offenses, said Moustapha El Khalfi, the Moroccan government’s spokesman at the time. Arrest warrants have been issued for a further 50,000 people. These people are exposed to blackmail and the risk of being sued by the authorities, forcing them to live in hiding and to have limited freedom of movement.

Most of Morocco’s cannabis is grown in the Rif region, one of the poorest areas of the country, where there is much social unrest and outrage at state corruption. The Rif Mountains are known for a popular variety, Beldia Kef (or Kief), which is considered particularly suited to the local topography and climate. This variety is valued for its high CBD content and low water requirements. But as demand for the intoxicating cannabinoid THC increases, new varieties are coming to market that are less resistant and require more irrigation. Unregulated cannabis cultivation has environmental consequences, such as deforestation, soil erosion and depletion of water resources, which affect the entire region.

One of the factors behind the legalization of cannabis in Morocco is the improvement of farmers’ livelihoods. However, not everyone agrees with this new set of rules. Attempts to eradicate the illegal hemp industry have largely failed, despite tens of millions of dollars allocated by the EU and the US to help farmers replace hemp with new crops. A report by the Transnational Institute says any policy change in the Rif region must involve farmers, who have been growing cannabis for generations and have aggressively responded to government attempts to intervene in their stronghold of illicit trade. It remains to be seen how they will react to the new rules.

Same climate as Israel but 20 times larger in area

Israel and Morocco are at almost the same latitudes. In the areas where most agricultural land is located, the two countries have a similar climate. Israeli cannabis entrepreneurs have developed cultivation methods and techniques that are the norm in the region. Cooperation on cultivation and production know-how would be very useful since Moroccan farmers are in a transitional phase towards a legal framework.

Regulated cannabis for human or animal consumption must be grown in accordance with accepted agricultural practices. In warm countries medicinal cannabis is usually grown in greenhouses in a semi-controlled environment that reduces or eliminates contamination by toxins, pests and plant diseases. Irrigation, fertilization and plant protection methods ensure a healthy plant and increase productivity. Agricultural producers need access to the expertise necessary to meet international standards if they are to gain access to foreign markets through legal marketing channels.

The arable land in Morocco was estimated at 7,477,600 hectares in 2018 by the World Bank. By comparison, the area of arable land in Israel is estimated at 383,500 ha. In 2020, Israel produced about 15 tons of cannabis and imported another 15 tons from foreign producers, mainly from Canada. The website of the medical cannabis department of the Israeli Ministry of Health lists 29 licensed cannabis growers (as of June 2021), but not all of them are yet engaged in commercial production. With 20 times more agricultural land than Israel, Morocco has the potential to become a major player in the cannabis industry.

Potential of phytocannabinoid preparations

The pharmaceutical industry in Morocco has been around for 70 years and is the second largest segment of the country’s chemical industry. The entire medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing chain is well established, supplying 60% of domestic demand and exporting ~$117.3 million annually. In addition to local companies, almost half of the companies in the country are owned by multinationals such as Sanofi, Bayer and Sun Pharmaceuticals.

The Moroccan National Laboratory for Drug Control is certified by both the World Health Organization and the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines, confirming the quality of production under GMP conditions. Morocco also invests in scientific research and institutions in this field, such as the Moroccan Pasteur Institute. In October 2018, the country opened its first manufacturing facility for metered dose inhalers (MDIs), a 4,000 square meter facility that is expected to produce 1.5 million MDIs per year.

As the development of phytocannabinoid preparations progresses, the opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry will become increasingly relevant. Clinical trials are being conducted in Israel, Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States. The pharmaceutical industry is already interested in cannabis. Experienced industry professionals are moving into medical cannabis companies in management roles. Novartis and Teva Pharmaceuticals have signed distribution agreements with cannabis companies, and the manufacturers have acquired pharmaceutical distribution companies in Uruguay, Mexico and Germany.

Industrial cannabis is the future

Another area that may be attractive to Morocco is the burgeoning industrial hemp industry. The development of industrial hemp is driven by increasingly stringent environmental regulations and the growing demand for CBD. With an absorption of up to 22 tons of CO2 per hectare, hemp is the king among carbon-negative plants. The rapid growth of this plant makes it one of the fastest converting biomass plants.

Hemp fiber and shavings can be used for textiles, insulation in various industries, building materials and many other purposes. CBD and other non-toxic cannabinoids that can be derived from cannabis are in high demand in the emerging health and wellness sector. Products made from industrial hemp are legal in most countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, India, China and Europe.

Israeli cannabis traffickers have established themselves in Greece, Macedonia, Malta, Lesotho and other countries in Europe. Morocco, with its familiar culture, reputation as a cannabis producer, similar environmental conditions and huge market potential, is a natural next destination for Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship.

Privacy settings,How Search works,is israel a country

You May Also Like

How the New Marijuana Law Impacts Employers in CT

The passage of the Marijuana Legalization Act into law in January of…

How to Use Cannabis Leaves

Marijuana plants contain hundreds of chemicals, many of which are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids…

The Acceleration Of Cannabis Legalization Is Creating Jobs For Veterans As Armed Security Guards

In contrast to other states, where few jobs have been created, Colorado…

Weekly Cannabis Roundup October 22

With the government’s move to legalize cannabis federally in October, there is…