I am a guest of Moroccan marijuana producers. A small blue town of Chefchaouen with its winding streets known as the gateway to the mountain range called Rif. It is a perfect base to explore the most important agricultural products of this North African kingdom.Hashish is ubiquitous in Chaouen (the locals call their city Chaouen). The aroma in local coffee houses is typical of coffee shops.
The police will not pay any attention until you stick to one rule: hide a joint if there is a cop in sight. Usually that`s the way it is. One gram of good quality hashish is about 1.5-2 Euros. But you should resist the temptation to buy hashish from one of street vendors – you need to be careful and find someone you trust. Hotel workers showed me the right people during my trips to this country.
Hemp does not grow in the vicinity of Chefchaouen, of course. You have to seat in your car and drive along impassable mountain roads to get to the place where it is grown. Just a few years ago, hemp plantations could be seen near major roads, but in 2004, cannabis cultivation has become officially banned and since then hemp field was something uncommon. However, my three year old son noticed that \”the smell of tobacco that dad smokes in the evenings is everywhere.\”
The police of the Rif mountain range intervene in the affairs of marijuana plantations from time to time just to display the desired success in statistics. However, it does not change the fact that the Rif area, on which cannabis is grown, is increasing from year to year. Only with the help of my local friends I could see the hemp fields meant for profit.
Of course, the Europeans who are interested in growing hemp are potential customers for local producers. This often leads to confusion if you came just to watch. Usually cameras are not welcome here. In this regard, I am lucky because I have a local friend. His name is Ahmed and he is native of one of the Rif villages and his ancestors also were engaged in the cannabis cultivation. So Ahmed gladly showed me one of his family\’s plantations.
We leave Chefchaouen and after about 45 minutes of spectacular nature views we suddenly stop. Of course, I thought that we stopped to have a smoke or relieve ourselves because just pine trees were around. But no, Ahmed gets up and walks to the forest, I follow him. After about 50 meters walk through the forest we meet two Ahmed`s brothers and the first hemp field. The flowers are small and plants look miserable. \”The Moroccan seed – my friend explains to me – and lack of water.\” We go ahead and see the same thing. Yeah, they disguised the field next to the road. Not a bad idea. If police reach these godforsaken places they stumble upon this modest field, burn it, and everything else will remain intact.
After another half-hour walk I see a beautiful view. Real Ahmed`s family treasure between two mountain ranges.
\”Hemp plantations, three meters height flowers, the Dutch seeds,\” Ahmed tells proudly. Two years ago, his friends brought him 10 seeds and a year later he had a bagful of seeds. This bag of seeds served as the basis for the hemp field, which promises a great harvest this year. By the way, we are not talking about a rectangular field, and about a garden so to speak, where every sunny place between fig trees used for cannabis or vegetables. They do not need sensimilla as cannabis is commonly done from plant.
In contrast, seeds are in demand here and both crop and income are measured by seeds quantity. A small amount of crop is usually processed into a mixture of keef, flowers, leaves and a very strong Moroccan tobacco. It is a very strong blend for tourists mainly due to tobacco.
In Morocco, keef smoked through a long tube and it is considered the traditional way of smoking marijuana in the northern part of the country. Production of cannabis began in the 50s here. You won`t find pure weed here at all, unless you buy several dry flowers from manufacturers and process them by yourself.
Due to its location between two mountain ranges, the plantation is always plenty of water, even during dry, hot summer. However, Ahmed and his brothers need to moisturize the plants every day. They use domestic goats` manure as a fertilizer. Further processing of the harvest takes place in a small circle of family members: from harvesting, pressing and packing to sale – members of the family do it.
Many keef manufacturers use white phosphorus, which depletes the soil, to increase their income. Ahmed also used artificial fertilizers but as the soil was constantly getting worse he had to change the way of feeding. On the advice of his Spanish friend Ahmed stopped using artificial fertilizers, but began to change the seeds more often. Thus, he takes care of soil and has a good crop.
During our visit, the plants were in the flowering stage and harvest in the Rif Mountains is collected in September and October. Then flowers are drying until December as it is very hot for hashish production till that time. As a result, natural product goes to Europe, but it is five times more expensive than the initial price. Often it happens due to the questionable distributors.
Moroccan Rif hashish is the best example of that dangerous structures are created only because of the criminalization of cannabis cultivation. Corruption reigns in our everyday life: the police get money for being blind. Hashish smuggling is related to human trafficking.
International programs that advocate for termination of cannabis cultivation are not supported because they do not respect the needs of the population. Prohibition and punishment for the cannabis cultivation in the country where it has been cultivated for centuries seriously affect the social structures which have been formed over many generations. If Morocco had the opportunity to grow hemp like any other agricultural product the organized crime would have lost its meaning. And criminals would become law-abiding citizens who make a profit for their country.