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Morocco is establishing a regulatory agency that would oversee the country’s cannabis cultivation for medical use, the latest move by the deeply conservative North African kingdom to legalize the growth and sale of the narcotic plant, the Middle East Monitor reported.

The National Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis Activities (ANRAC) will be tasked with controlling all stages of production, starting from seed importation and plant certification to the marketing of medicinal cannabis-based products.

ANRAC will also set up the first processing and manufacturing cooperatives, made up exclusively of local growers.

The agency’s creation comes a few months after the Moroccan government legalized the cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes in three northern provinces. Officials said in March that other provinces could be added, “depending on the interest shown by national and international investors in activities linked to the cannabis production chain.”

Last year, Morocco passed a law that legalized the production and export of cannabis for medical, cosmetic and industrial uses, according to Agence France-Presse.

Morocco is the world’s biggest producer of cannabis resin – known as hashish – according to a 2020 report by the UN. Hashish was banned in Morocco in 1954 but has been tolerated as its cultivation provides a livelihood for at least 60,000 families, farming across nearly 136,000 acres.

The country now believes that farming cannabis for medical purposes can become a profitable industry, putting Morocco on the worldwide market.

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