Hashish in Morocco and Lebanon: A comparative study

Abstract : In the 1960s and the 1970s, Morocco and Lebanon became major producers of hashish for export to markets in West and Central Europe, Africa and the Middle East. By using a comparative approach, this paper aims to evaluate changes in production in the traditional areas of cannabis cultivation in the Rif (Morocco) and the Beqaa (Lebanon) and to better understand the role that these countries play in current trends in the global cultivation and consumption of cannabis. Methods The comparative approach takes in account the historical and institutionnal context, and the perception of cannabis in those two country. We rely on primary field research done in the Rif (from 2002) and in the Beqaa (from 1995) in the form of interviews and observations with farmers and intermediaries. Acreage and production estimates of hashish for both countries have been triangulated from different sources. Results Maghreb and Middle East have a long history of consumption, production and marketing of cannabis. Over the past 12 centuries, migration, trade and different spiritual practices and trends have led to the expansion of cannabis markets. This long period is marked by stages and rifts caused by foreign interference, a worldwide prohibition of cannabis at the beginning of the 20th century and increased global demand in the 1960s and the 1970s. Morocco and Lebanon are among the most important producers of hashish to be exported for trade for the last fifty years. The global prohibition of cannabis and the global sustained demand have created opportunities for poor farmers in the Rif and the Beqaa regions to survive and get wealthy. It is difficult to understand the reasons why areas producing cannabis are steadily increasing. If the Rif and the Beqaa share some features (such are marginalized areas of production, repressive legislation, huge international demand, range of comparable tasks and Mediterranean climate suitable for growing cannabis, etc.) then a comparison between the two countries makes it more easy to notice differences in contexts, in local and international markets (Stability in Morocco, instability in Lebanon; traditional market in Morocco, absence of local market in Lebanon, etc.) In Morocco, the stability and specialized skills among Moroccan growers of hashish have enhanced a competitive economy with various production areas, products and qualities, but also prices and strategies due to competition between Moroccan and European producers. Moreover, Morocco produces cannabis for its significant local market.
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Kenza Afsahi, Salem Darwich. Hashish in Morocco and Lebanon: A comparative study. International Journal of Drug Policy, Elsevier, 2016, 31, pp.190 - 198. ⟨http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955395916300561⟩. ⟨10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.02.024⟩. ⟨halshs-01472771⟩

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