Moroccan Marijuana Farmers now into Foreign Hybrids

Morocco’s Riff mountains have been famous for their cannabis for quite a long time. However, Marijuana farmers in Morocco have been gradually ditching traditional varieties. Instead, they have been opting for foreign hybrids in recent times mainly because they offer higher yields and greater potency.

The local breed, Beldiya, has been in high demand. Unfortunately, it is becoming rare in Moroccan Marijuana farms. In Ketama, a region in the central parts of the northern Rif, a breed called ‘Critical’ is becoming more popular at a high rate. According to Hicham, a 27-year-old farmer, Critical gives a much higher yield.

Khalid Mouna is a Moroccan anthropologist who has written a thesis on the economics of the production of cannabis in Ketama. He says “hybrid plants have become a market all on their own.” According to him, Critical comes from the Netherlands. It is the latest hybrid that laboratories in Europe or North America have created so they introduce it to Morocco.

In Morocco, hybrids have names such as ‘Amnesia’, ‘Gorilla’ and ‘Pakistani’. Farmers are embracing them for their affordability and high potency. A kilo of Critical, for example, would cost 2,500 Dirhams ($252, 230 euros), while the same quantity of the local Beldiya breed costs 10,000 Dirhams.

Cannabis is part of life in Ketama and the authorities permit its production and consumption. This is because Marijuana farming is a source of income for 90,000 to 140,000 people. According to people living in the area, the buyers of the cannabis harvest are mostly intermediaries who smuggle it to Europe or other towns in Morocco.

In as much as the growth of foreign marijuana, hybrids have a lot of advantages, it also has its downsides. One is the fact that it requires heavy fertilization which damages the soil. Strains such as Critical require heavy irrigation since they grow during summer. The local breed of Beldiya, on the other hand, grows in winter, therefore, it depends only on rainfall.

The fact that some major producers grow the hybrids even in arid areas is a major concern to the locals, as Mohamed Benyahya said.

“The traffickers impose it and the people don’t have any other choice.”

Major producers of marijuana install solar pumps on the roofs of their houses to water their plantations. Others use drip irrigation.

Also, hybrids such as Critical have high levels of marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical, THC. That is the reason why there has been a significant increase in the levels of THC in the seized Moroccan hashish. Mohamed spoke of its effects compared to Beldiya.

“One makes you think, the other makes you paranoid.”

The traditional Moroccan strains are therefore still on demand since European consumers no longer want hybrid cannabis, according to Mouna.

“European consumers no longer want hybrid cannabis on account of its high THC levels. Traditional Moroccan cannabis remains highly coveted, particularly by advocates of legalisation.”

Morocco is a conservative country, making the legalization of marijuana such a controversial topic. Moroccan politicians have strongly opposed the bid to legalize cannabis.

Related: Kenya Revives the Discussion on the Legalization of Marijuana after the Death of MP Ken Okoth


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