Morocco says slashes cannabis output by 65 pct

Morocco has managed to halve the cultivation area of the illicit crop.

Morocco says slashes cannabis output by 65 pct


Morocco has managed to halve the cultivation area of the illicit crop, slashing production by 65 percent, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Cannabis is the most widely consumed illicit drug globally.

"The target is to bring the cannabis cultivation land to 50,000 hectares in 2009 from 60,000 hectares this year," the ministry said in a rare press release on the country's multi-billion dollar cannabis harvest.

The land where cannabis is grown shrank by 55 percent this year to 60,000 hectares from 134,000 hectares in 2003, the ministry said, adding that "as a result of this shrinking acreage, the resin cannabis production was cut by 65 percent".

The United Nations says Morocco is the world's second supplier of cannabis resin after Afghanistan and the main source of hashish trafficked into Europe, mainly via Spain.

Morocco's hashish trade is estimated to net $12 billion per year for dealers and for drug barons who benefited from the complicity of local officials. Around a quarter of that sum filtered back into the Moroccan economy.

Rabat has launched a two-pronged strategy against illicit framing -- improving the living conditions in impoverished regions in the north where most of the drug is produced and cracking down on smugglers.

Rabat has been accused for years of failing to develop Morocco's rugged and isolated Rif mountains where families grow cannabis to stave off grinding poverty.

To draw investment and help lift the region out of poverty, Rabat has opened the kingdom's largest container terminal near Tangier last year and is setting up a chain of free trade zones nearby.

Spurred on by suspicions that sales from hashish helped pay for militant activities, Moroccan authorities have over the past two years tightened controls at ports and installed scanners able to detect cannabis within large trucks and containers.

Police seized 110,893 tonnes of cannabis resin this year, the Interior Ministry said. It gave no comparative figure for 2007 but it said 95 percent of the drugs were destined to the outside market, mostly to Europe.

Reuters

Last Mod: 31 Aralık 2008, 17:29
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