Everything You Need to Know About Smoking Kif in Morocco
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If you have been to the coffee shops of Amsterdam and tried legal hashish, it’s likely that it came from Morocco. Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of the sticky cannabis resin, and although it’s illegal to grow, harvest, possess or smoke it in the country itself, doing so is commonplace. If you’re planning a backpacking trip to Morocco, it’s likely that you will be approached at some point and offered hashish, which is known locally as kif.
For some travelers, sampling Moroccan kif in its place of origin is one of the main reasons to travel there in the first place. While TripSavvy does not encourage or endorse any illegal activity (particularly when traveling overseas), it is a fact that many people use hashish when they are in Morocco. This article aims to inform them about the issues surrounding the drug.
History of the Kif Industry
It’s not known exactly how long cannabis has been cultivated in Morocco, but the tradition is thought to have been introduced by Arabic invaders in the 7th century. Originally, cannabis farms existed to support local demand for kif, which is smoked socially in many areas of Morocco. It was legal in some parts of the country until 1956, when the newly independent government prohibited production nationwide.
Despite the ban, the kif industry continued to thrive and in the 1970s it expanded exponentially due to an influx of hippie travelers from Europe and North America. Kif farmers began growing for export and today Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of cannabis resin. Moroccan hashish, usually called Maroc, is widely sought after internationally.
Kif in the Rif Mountains
In 1890, Sultan Hassan I of Morocco gave five villages in the central Rif Mountains special permission to cultivate cannabis while restricting its growth elsewhere in the country. This established the region as the country’s premier hashish producer and today, most of Morocco’s cannabis is still grown and processed here in what has now become a multi-million-dollar industry.
In fact, the region is now so synonymous with cannabis that some of its towns have earned a reputation as havens for backpacking stoners. Mellow Chefchaouen is the most famous of these, and its blue-painted streets are often laced with the scent of weed smoke. However, not all of Rif Mountains’ towns are so safe. In places like Ketama, law enforcement are less tolerant and often pose as drug dealers – making it more likely that you’ll be caught and prosecuted.
Buying Kif in Morocco
Generally speaking, kif is readily available in many areas of Morocco. It’s especially easy to come by in Chefchaouen, the kif-smoking capital; and in the major tourist areas of big cities like Marrakesh and Fez. Dealers typically approach you and not the other way around, usually after dusk in busy places like Marrakesh’s Djemma el Fna square. As with most other wares in Morocco, haggling is expected – however, the longer the transaction takes, the higher your chances are of getting caught.
Obviously, buying illegal drugs from strangers in public places is never a good idea, no matter how tempting it may be. The language barrier makes it especially difficult to be sure of what you’re buying, you don’t know whether the hashish is pure or if it has been mixed with harmful substances and the chances of a police set-up are high. If you aren’t interested, don’t be afraid to say no politely but firmly before moving on.
Smoking Kif in Morocco
If you’re not familiar with hashish, you may be surprised by its appearance. Although it is a form of cannabis, it has been processed to resemble a sticky, brown clay which differs in color depending on the type and quality. It can be crumbled and mixed with tobacco then rolled into a joint; or smoked in a pipe. You can buy small pipes (sebsi or sibsi) or water pipes (hookahs) in most markets around Morocco.
In every Moroccan city, you will find small cafés where local men smoke their water pipes while playing cards and drinking mint tea. These places are probably the best places to smoke for men (as long as you’re accompanied by a local). Female tourists, on the other hand, will be out of place in these cafés and may feel more comfortable smoking in a stoner-friendly hostel or guesthouse. Many tourists also smoke on a beach or in other nature spots away from the general public.
Smoking in public is inadvisable and you should always avoid traveling with hashish in your possession.
Penalties for Smoking Kif
If you’re caught buying or smoking hashish, the penalty can be up to 10 years imprisonment. Although law enforcement are often tolerant of the industry (especially in known smoker towns like Chefchaouen), tourists are sometimes made an example of. If you do run into trouble, enquire about paying a spot fine rather than being arrested and taken to prison – although these fines are often pricey, they are far preferable to a night or more in a Moroccan jail.
This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on April 16 2019.
Although it's illegal, smoking hashish, or kif, is common in Morocco and many travelers end up trying it. Read about the drug and its penalties here.
Foreign hybrids stubbing out Morocco’s renowned cannabis
Foreign hybrids stubbing out Morocco’s renowned cannabis
- While Morocco’s cannabis cultivation is falling, the adoption of hybrids means hashish production has remained stable
KETAMA, Morocco: Morocco’s rugged Rif Mountains have long been renowned for their cannabis but traditional varieties are being smoked out by foreign hybrids offering higher yields and greater potency.
The local strain of marijuana, known as Beldiya, is coveted by aficionados but is gradually disappearing from the fields in the North African kingdom.
Nowadays in Ketama, a region in the heart of the northern Rif, a strain called “Critical” is king.
Hicham, a 27-year-old cannabis farmer, says that he grows Critical because “the new imported seeds give a much higher yield.”
Major cannabis producers decide what to plant and “hybrid plants have become a market all on their own,” said Moroccan anthropologist Khalid Mouna, who has written a thesis on the economics of Ketama’s cannabis production.
Critical, which Mouna said comes from the Netherlands, is the latest hybrid created in laboratories in Europe or North America to be introduced to Morocco.
With names like “Pakistana,” “Amnesia” and “Gorilla,” hybrids are popular for their potency and affordability.
Critical sells for 2,500 dirhams per kilo ($252), while Beldiya goes for up to 10,000 dirhams per kilo, local sources told AFP.
Morocco has long been a leading producer and exporter of hashish — refined cannabis resin — even though the production, sale and consumption of drugs is illegal in the country.
A quarter of hashish seizures worldwide originated from Morocco between 2013 and 2017, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
While Morocco’s cannabis cultivation is falling, the adoption of hybrids means hashish production has remained stable.
In 2003, 134,000 hectares were under cannabis cultivation, falling to 47,500 hectares by 2011 under a large official reconversion program, according to a 2015 study by the French Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT).
But modern hybrid strains produce five to 10 kilos of hashish per quintal, a traditional unit of weight equivalent to 100 kilos, compared to a single kilo for kif, as local cannabis is known.
“The substitution of hybrids for kif might explain why the production of Moroccan hashish has barely decreased,” the study said.
In Ketama, kif is part of the culture.
Producing it and smoking it are tolerated by the authorities and its cultivation provides a livelihood for 90,000 to 140,000 people in an otherwise deprived region known for its poor soil.
People in the area told AFP that it was mostly traffickers or intermediaries who bought the cannabis harvest for smuggling to Europe or other Moroccan towns.
Hicham divides his time between his cannabis field and a cafe, where he and his friends smoke joints and watch satellite TV — a distraction from unemployment, he says.
In this rural region, job prospects are rare, with one in four young people unemployed, according to official figures.
Hicham and his friends all left school early to support their families, and many have left for Europe in search of work.
Those who stay mostly work seasonally for large cannabis growers, earning about 100 dirhams per day for a month or two at a time.
Most lack the money to get set up and work for themselves.
The high yields of imported hybrid cannabis plants come at a cost however.
The strains require heavy fertilization, which can damage the soil. And their insatiable thirst threatens the region’s water supplies, according to the OFDT.
Critical grows in the dry summer, requiring heavy irrigation, while Beldiya is planted in winter, depending only on rainfall.
Some locals complain that major producers enforce the planting of hybrids even in arid areas.
“The traffickers impose it and the people don’t have any other choice,” says Mohamed Benyahya, a local community figure.
To water their plantations, major producers install solar pumps on the roofs of their mansions.
Not far from Hicham’s local cafe, a vast terraced cannabis plantation sprawls up a nearby mountain.
Rows of carefully maintained plants are watered by drip irrigation via a network of pipes connected to a reservoir.
Hybrids like Critical are notable also for high levels of THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical.
The adoption of hybrids explains the “rapid and significant increase in the average THC content” of seized Moroccan hashish, according to the OFDT.
For smokers, the effect compared to Beldiya is pronounced. “One makes you think, the other makes you paranoid,” says Mohamed, a friend of Hicham.
“European consumers no longer want hybrid cannabis on account of its high THC levels,” Mouna said.
“Traditional Moroccan cannabis remains highly coveted, particularly by advocates of legalization.”
Cannabis decriminalization remains controversial in the conservative country.
Proposals to legalize cannabis have so far met fierce political opposition.
For Mouna, legalization could help regulate cannabis consumption while also preserving the more traditional and environmentally friendly Beldiya.
And, while Hicham may have switched to growing Critical, he still only smokes Beldiya. “The modern varieties,” he says, “are mediocre.”
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Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic
Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic
- More than 567,000 voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote
- Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait is holding parliamentary elections Saturday under the shadow of Covid-19, with facilities laid on for citizens infected with the disease to vote in special polling stations.
The oil-rich country has enforced some of the strictest regulations in the Gulf to combat the spread of the coronavirus, imposing a months-long nationwide lockdown earlier this year.
But while some curbs have eased, over-the-top election events that traditionally draw thousands for lavish banquets are out, masks remain mandatory and temperature checks are routine when venturing outdoors.
Infected people or those under mandatory quarantine are usually confined to home, with electronic wristbands monitoring their movements.
But in an effort to include all constituents, authorities have designated five schools — one in each electoral district — where they can vote, among the 102 polling stations across the country.
Election officials are expected to be in full personal protective equipment.
Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms that enjoys wide legislative powers.
Political disputes are often fought out in the open.
Parties are neither banned nor recognized, but many groups — including Islamists — operate freely as de facto parties.
But with more than 143,917 coronavirus cases to date, including 886 deaths, the election campaign has been toned down this year.
KETAMA, Morocco: Morocco’s rugged Rif Mountains have long been renowned for their cannabis but traditional varieties are being smoked out by foreign hybrids offering higher yields and greater potency. The local strain of marijuana, known as Beldiya, is coveted by aficionados but is gradually disappearing from the fields in the North African kingdom. Nowadays in Ketama, a