Strengthening health care systems shaken by Covid, patient rights, cardiovascular disease and cancer, changing lifestyles, mental health, health financing… The program of the first African Health Harm Reduction Conference, a continental event dedicated to health issues organized in Marrakech by the Moroccan Ministry of Health, was as dense as it was varied. After several conferences on public health issues common to most African countries, the subject of the consumption of therapeutic cannabis was discussed. A particularly current question in Morocco, where a law dating from 2021 provides for the supervision of the legal uses of “medical, cosmetic and industrial cannabis”.
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Entitled “How to successfully launch the medical cannabis sector in Africa? “, Table ronde chaired by Professor Redouane Rabii, urologist and professor at the Mohammed VI University of Health Sciences, addressed some of the issues facing the authorities in the application of the law.
Tracing and tracking
Mohammed El Guerrouj, director general of the National Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis Activities (Anrac), said he was convinced that the law will necessarily lead to “improving the quality of life of the populations concerned”, before pleading in favor of the implementation of a rigorous system of control and traceability which would make it possible to control “the risks of interference between legal and illegal culture”. To achieve this, he intends to create a “digital platform for monitoring all flows”, from seeds to export and then consumption.
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“As a doctor, I see patients who have cancer and who are suffering, on whom it is not possible to increase the doses of morphine”, explains Redouane Rabii, before adding that in these cases, it is is “not possible to let patients suffer, leaving families to witness this”.
The professor then recalled, with supporting studies and examples, the effectiveness of therapeutic cannabis in the treatment of several diseases, including Parkinson’s. Redouane Rabii has made himself, no doubt in spite of himself, the spokesperson for many doctors and researchers who are well aware of the potential offered by the “kif” in terms of health, but who for years have come up against all forms of conservatism linked to the negative image suffered by hemp and its derivatives.
sign that the subject remains taboo, Mohammed El Guerrouj wanted to remind that it is currently only a question of medical use, and in no case recreational. A precautionary measure followed by Redouane Rabii who also refused to mention recreational use for the moment.
Will the bitter defeat of the Justice and Development Party (PJD – Islamist) in the last legislative elections in September 2021 speed up the implementation of the law? With a conservative tendency, the party was logically opposed to the legalization of cannabis, even partial, although debates took place within the formation itself.
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For Morocco, the world’s largest cannabis producer, the economic potential is enormous. For the 100,000 families in the Rif who live entirely from this activity, legalization is eagerly awaited. Farmers have so far only received a derisory amount, estimated at 4% of traffic-related turnover. The law of 2021 defines the cultivable areas, the conditions for granting authorizations for cultivation and the type of beneficiaries concerned by this reform.
Arnon Afek, an Israeli doctor and professor, said a big step forward will be made when cannabis sheds its “smoking” image, being marketed more in the form of capsules, spray or dab. ‘essential oils. A seemingly anecdotal aspect as much as a blind spot in the debate, but which is not devoid of utility on a subject which unleashes so many passions, and which requires constant exercise of pedagogy.