At least 800,000 Moroccans live off what Tahiri calls "the herb." Illegal marijuana farming generates annual sales estimated at $10 billion, according to the Moroccan Network for the Industrial and Medicinal Use of Marijuana, a nonprofit founded in 2008. That's equal to 10 percent of Morocco's economy. "We can't carry on ignoring this big elephant in the room," says Khadija Rouissi, a lawmaker from the opposition Authenticity and Modernity Party.
Parliament is considering draft legislation proposed by the Moroccan Network that would legalize marijuana cultivation, allowing farmers to sell their crops to the government rather than to drug traffickers. (While it's illegal to grow and sell cannabis, Moroccan law says nothing about recreational use.)