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POSTED | 12:37 PM | 04-12-2017

Tourists roll up for cannabis trail

It may not feature in Morocco’s official tourism brochures but cannabis attracts thousands of visitors a year to the North African country, AFP reported on Monday (Dec 4, 2017).

At a hotel bar in the northern region of Ketama, German tourist Beatrix made no attempt to hide the joint she was rolling. The 57-year-old said she had fallen in love with the area for “the quality of its hashish and the friendliness of its residents.”

Hassan, a 40-something sporting a conspicuous gold watch, said cannabis was “our main source of wealth.”

“The climate here is very special. Nothing grows here except kif,” he said, using a Moroccan name for the drug.

Northern Morocco is a key production center for hashish for export to Europe, but it has also seen traffic in the other direction — an influx of European visitors heading to sample the local pleasures.

While Moroccan law bans the sale and consumption of the drug, that has not stopped farmers growing vast plantations of it, providing a living for some 90,000 households, according to official figures for 2013, the most recent available.

Smoking kif is seen as part of the local culture, and is largely tolerated by the authorities.

“Twenty years ago, the tourists were mainly young Spaniards who came to smoke,” one local tour operator said. “Now, non-smokers also come for the blue of the city, highly appreciated by Chinese tourists.”

Famed for its narrow alleys lined with striking blue houses, the town is also the main urban center of a region famed for its cannabis production.

Small-time dealers and unlicensed guides approach tourists to offer them hashish or a tour of nearby farms to meet the “kifficulteurs”" — local cannabis producers.

 

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