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Morocco’s Cannabis Agency Meets for First Time

Watching the German move to legal medical cannabis was fascinating because of how fast the internal controls could be launched after the political decision. This included the creation of a cannabis agency—even if it was a subdivision of BfArM—the German federal agency in charge of medicines and medical devices. It was almost set up at the exact same moment as the March 2017 final vote in favor of legalization in the Bundestag. Morocco appears to be on a similar course.

The Parliament approved legalizing at most medical marijuana last May and attempting to capitalise on foreign earnings that can be made in Europe by exporting it. That decision was formalized by the government in March.

Instead of just acknowledging its existence, the government now officially launches the agency. This week’s inaugural kickoff was held by the group. The topics on the agenda were approvals of the organization chart and this year’s budget.

The agency will control all stages of the production chain—from cultivation and certification to marketing. It will also have to set up processing and manufacturing cooperatives—exclusively comprised of local growers.

Morocco’s Cannabis Impact

Multiple sources estimate that Morocco will enter a legal cannabis industry worldwide, which is expected to increase by more than 20% in the coming years. Although the regulations and controls for cannabis cultivation are not new in this region, they have been around since the beginning of time.

The impact of Moroccan-sourced medical quality in Europe will be something to keep an eye on. It is also important to consider where the product ends up.

Let’s find out why.

Formal, E.U. GMP certified cannabis has to meet specific pharmaceutical spec before it can be classified as a “medicine.” This starts with indoor cultivation. It is this exact standard that will prove so difficult for Moroccan growers to meet.

Is this a sign that the Moroccan experiment may be doomed before it even begins? Not necessarily.

Legislation is intended to prevent illegal cultivation of the Rif Mountains, and to establish legal channels for creating jobs as well as valuable foreign income through exports. Yet few farmers can afford to build the infrastructure needed for the same—and foreign investors are hard to come by. The rest of the world faces a similar dilemma as it examines whether this industry is a blessing or curse.

This also means, by definition, that as a result, most of the crop coming out of Morocco, even “legally” is highly likely not to make the strict European medical grade.

Is this the answer? Are we doomed?

This question has many answers, and most are positive.

One is that, while Moroccan medical marijuana flower might not be permitted to enter the German pharmaceutical market as an individual product, it can still travel to other E.U. countries. Markets (including Eastern Europe), may be similar to markets that medical cannabis is already sourced from elsewhere in the world. It is necessary to be recertified by a third European country like Portugal before the product can cross into any other E.U. borders, including Germany’s.

While this is a highly controversial practice, don’t expect it to disappear any time soon, particularly given the transition to recreational now in the offing aus Deutschland.

Beyond this, there are also countries in Eastern Europe, starting with the Czech Republic, which are not so rigorous in their import requirements for “medical” cannabis.

There is also the extract market. For the whole industry, it will be difficult to confirm that the biomass used for medical extracts has been produced in accordance with GMP. For flower, it is difficult enough.

And don’t forget, there is the pending discussion about Germany’s recreational market.

Are You Looking for a New Grade of Cannabis to Use as a Recreational Product?

While it is likely that German legislators—if not the three established companies which obtained authorization to cultivate as of the formal cultivation tender—would want Deutschland’sNew recreational cannabis must be procured domestically. It’s unlikely they can meet the demand. They are unable to meet the demands of the medical market.

What is likely, however, is that foreign “GMP” product, including that grown outside and then submitted to a GMP process downstream (starting with drying and curing) may cross the German border only to then be channeled into the recreational market.

This would not be surprising considering all of the twists, turns and developments so far.

However, this also means, in effect, that Morocco, along with other African countries on the brink of “medical” cannabis reform or implementation of such policy, is actually taking a bold, brave step into the unknown. This is happening at an exciting time for medical cannabis certification.

Consumers will likely be the ultimate winners.

One thing is for sure: The quality of the formal global market, including what is likely to emanate from Morocco—no matter what its actual certification—is going to be a lot higher than it is now.