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Everything You Need to Know About Smoking Kif in Morocco

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If you have been to the coffee shops of Amsterdam and tried legal hashish, it’s likely that it came from Morocco. Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of the sticky cannabis resin, and although it’s illegal to grow, harvest, possess or smoke it in the country itself, doing so is commonplace. If you’re planning a backpacking trip to Morocco, it’s likely that you will be approached at some point and offered hashish, which is known locally as kif.

For some travelers, sampling Moroccan kif in its place of origin is one of the main reasons to travel there in the first place. While TripSavvy does not encourage or endorse any illegal activity (particularly when traveling overseas), it is a fact that many people use hashish when they are in Morocco. This article aims to inform them about the issues surrounding the drug.

History of the Kif Industry

It’s not known exactly how long cannabis has been cultivated in Morocco, but the tradition is thought to have been introduced by Arabic invaders in the 7th century. Originally, cannabis farms existed to support local demand for kif, which is smoked socially in many areas of Morocco. It was legal in some parts of the country until 1956, when the newly independent government prohibited production nationwide.

Despite the ban, the kif industry continued to thrive and in the 1970s it expanded exponentially due to an influx of hippie travelers from Europe and North America. Kif farmers began growing for export and today Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of cannabis resin. Moroccan hashish, usually called Maroc, is widely sought after internationally.

Kif in the Rif Mountains

In 1890, Sultan Hassan I of Morocco gave five villages in the central Rif Mountains special permission to cultivate cannabis while restricting its growth elsewhere in the country. This established the region as the country’s premier hashish producer and today, most of Morocco’s cannabis is still grown and processed here in what has now become a multi-million-dollar industry.

In fact, the region is now so synonymous with cannabis that some of its towns have earned a reputation as havens for backpacking stoners. Mellow Chefchaouen is the most famous of these, and its blue-painted streets are often laced with the scent of weed smoke. However, not all of Rif Mountains’ towns are so safe. In places like Ketama, law enforcement are less tolerant and often pose as drug dealers – making it more likely that you’ll be caught and prosecuted.

Buying Kif in Morocco

Generally speaking, kif is readily available in many areas of Morocco. It’s especially easy to come by in Chefchaouen, the kif-smoking capital; and in the major tourist areas of big cities like Marrakesh and Fez. Dealers typically approach you and not the other way around, usually after dusk in busy places like Marrakesh’s Djemma el Fna square. As with most other wares in Morocco, haggling is expected – however, the longer the transaction takes, the higher your chances are of getting caught.

Obviously, buying illegal drugs from strangers in public places is never a good idea, no matter how tempting it may be. The language barrier makes it especially difficult to be sure of what you’re buying, you don’t know whether the hashish is pure or if it has been mixed with harmful substances and the chances of a police set-up are high. If you aren’t interested, don’t be afraid to say no politely but firmly before moving on.

Smoking Kif in Morocco

If you’re not familiar with hashish, you may be surprised by its appearance. Although it is a form of cannabis, it has been processed to resemble a sticky, brown clay which differs in color depending on the type and quality. It can be crumbled and mixed with tobacco then rolled into a joint; or smoked in a pipe. You can buy small pipes (sebsi or sibsi) or water pipes (hookahs) in most markets around Morocco.

In every Moroccan city, you will find small cafés where local men smoke their water pipes while playing cards and drinking mint tea. These places are probably the best places to smoke for men (as long as you’re accompanied by a local). Female tourists, on the other hand, will be out of place in these cafés and may feel more comfortable smoking in a stoner-friendly hostel or guesthouse. Many tourists also smoke on a beach or in other nature spots away from the general public.

Smoking in public is inadvisable and you should always avoid traveling with hashish in your possession.

Penalties for Smoking Kif

If you’re caught buying or smoking hashish, the penalty can be up to 10 years imprisonment. Although law enforcement are often tolerant of the industry (especially in known smoker towns like Chefchaouen), tourists are sometimes made an example of. If you do run into trouble, enquire about paying a spot fine rather than being arrested and taken to prison – although these fines are often pricey, they are far preferable to a night or more in a Moroccan jail.

This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on April 16 2019.

Although it's illegal, smoking hashish, or kif, is common in Morocco and many travelers end up trying it. Read about the drug and its penalties here.

Scots crime gangs hit by Morocco hash drought as king orders cannabis crackdown

A purge on dope farms in the North African nation is causing headaches for crooks as the supply chain to Scottish cities has been disrupted.

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  • 04:30, 23 FEB 2020

A massive crackdown by Moroccan authorities on the country’s multi-billion-pound cannabis industry has disrupted Scotland’s organised crime groups.

Record-breaking seizures of the drug by law enforcement agencies in Morocco have led to a shortage of supplies.

The crackdown has put financial pressure on poverty-hit farmers who say they rely on the trafficking of the Class B drug to feed their families.

Sources say the hard line has been ordered by the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, who has previously been accused of turning a blind eye to the illegal trade and tolerating cannabis exports.

Morocco is the world’s biggest producer of hashish which is grown on massive illegal plantations in the north of the country.

But last year, police arrested 127,049 people in drug-related cases – an increase of 38 per cent compared to the previous year.

Earlier this month the security services seized 2.4 tonnes of cannabis in a major operation – sending a clear message that the zero tolerance policy would not be relaxed.

In 2019, police intercepted 179.6 tonnes of the drug which had been earmarked for markets in Europe, including major cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh. The figure was a 27-tonne increase on 2018.

However a high-ranking official within the government, Khalid Zerouali, revealed other security forces including the Royal Gendarmerie, seized an eye-watering 321 tonnes last year.

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The purge has caused a massive headache for Scottish drug gangs who rake in millions of pounds a year from smuggling and distributing the drug.

A kilo of cannabis normally costs about £1200 but the short supply caused by Morocco’s increased seizures has seen its street value rocket to £2000. The highest grade of the drug was £3000 but now costs £4500 per kilo.

Scottish crime groups have forged strong links with Moroccan gangs who produce the drug and transport it to the continent before it travels north of the border.

One Glasgow underworld source who has links to the drugs trade said: “Thefarmers in Morocco are going crazy because they’re not making any money.

“They say the crackdown has been ordered by the king, who’s told the authorities to seize everything they find.

“Until now, it was easy to get stuff out of Morocco. It was the second and third parts of the journey that posed problems.The right people were paid to turn a blind eye to cannabis being exported but that’s all changed.

“Some is getting through but not as much as before and that has seen the price go up significantly.

“The farmers say that unless things are relaxed soon, they’ll have to find other ways to feed their families. That’ll include committing other crimes.”

The cannabis trade in Morocco is believed to be worth about £8billion a year.

The drug costs £100 a kilo when bought from a farmer. That price has soared by the time it reaches the United Kingdom because of the costs involved in transporting the drugs and bribing officials.

The United Nations ranks Morocco first among 129 countries for cannabis production, followed by Afghanistan, Lebanon, India and Pakistan.

Khalid Zerouali, director of migration and borders surveillance at the Moroccan interior ministry, said: “Moroccan security services have been very successful in combatting transnational organised crime networks, especially those active in drug trafficking.

“Indeed, 321 tonnes of cannabis resin have been seized in 2019 thanks to the national holistic security doctrine built upon inter-service coordination and international cooperation.

“Morocco has always taken seriously the threat of transnational organised crime, especially its connections to terrorism.

“Results achieved by Morocco in this fight are recognised by the international community,
especially in combatting terrorism as well as drug trafficking and migrant smuggling.

“This is a 24/7 fight against these criminal networks to interdict their illicit activities and to adapt to the changes in their modus operandi.

“Combatting transnational organised crime requires a close bilateral, regional and international cooperation, especially the exchange of expertise and intelligence.

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“In this context, we highly value the excellent cooperation with the United Kingdom.”

Morocco’s mountainous Rif region is the country’s main area for cannabis production.

The drug has been illegal since the nation became independent in 1956.

However, farmers have continued to cultivate cannabis in the region, which stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the port city of Tangier.

From there, consignments are transported eight miles across the Strait of Gibraltar, then on into Europe.

One farmer in the Rif area said: “Cannabis growing is witnessing a real crisis.

“It is a very risky business.

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“More than 7000 people are living in hiding because the local security forces are looking for them.

“Local families are living in the fear that their sons may be arrested anytime because they are involved.

“Cannabis growing is the main activity for thousands of families in this entire region.

“They don’t have any other alternative but to grow cannabis in this mountainous area.

“The region is living a real economic crisis because there are no opportunities or economic projects that could employ people.

“This entire region is completely marginalised and did not benefit from any projects at every level.

“This is why growing cannabis is an essential activity in the Rif region.”

Dave Liddell, chief executive of the government-funded Scottish Drugs Forum, said the risk of cannabis users turning to more dangerous substances was low, despite the supply shortage coupled with a higher price.

He added: “One of the consequences of law enforcement can be that drug markets are disrupted if large enough quantities of a drug are seized.

“If a drug is harder to get or is more expensive, users of that drug may switch to other drugs, and this ‘market adjustment’ can involve an increased risk to users.”

However, he added: “In the case of cannabis this is less likely, as many users only use that drug.

“The risk is higher if people use various substances and a shortage of one means that they begin to use more of another – benzodiazepines and alcohol, for example.”

A purge on dope farms in the North African nation is causing headaches for crooks as the supply chain to Scottish cities has been disrupted.