Parliament, however, still needs to give its final approval to the legislation.
The proposed law calls for the creation of a national agency to regulate the industry, and for the establishment of cooperatives that would grow “certified” cannabis plants.
“It is the end of a political taboo and caps efforts launched some 10 years ago” by authorities, said sociologist Khaled Mouna.
According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) last year, the North African country is the world’s biggest producer of cannabis resin, or hashish.
The official MAP news agency said, citing unnamed experts, that Morocco has a lot to gain from legalising hashish for medical use due to “the ancestral know-how of farmers, a propitious ecosystem”.
It also noted Morocco’s proximity to Europe, where medical cannabis is widely used.
Legalising cannabis for medical use will position Morocco in a global market that is growing at an annual rate of 30 percent, and by 60 percent a year in Europe, according Morocco’s interior ministry.
State regulation will improve farmers’ living conditions and protect them from illegal drug trafficking networks, the ministry had said.
Morocco’s production of cannabis was estimated at more than 700 tonnes in a 2020 study by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.
In its 2020 report UNODC said: “Morocco… continues to be the most frequently mentioned source country for cannabis resin worldwide” followed by Afghanistan.
Figures released by Moroccan authorities this week showed that 55,000 hectares (around 136,000 acres) of land in the northern mountainous Rif region were being used to illicitly grow hashish in 2019.
Cannabis, known as “kif” in Morocco (pleasure in Arabic), was banned by authorities in 1954 but tolerated as its cultivation provides a livelihood for 80,000 to 120,000 families, according to unofficial estimates.