Drug Abuse in the Global Village

Drug Abuse in Africa
                                       EXTENT, PATTERNS AND TRENDS IN DRUG ABUSE

Extent of Drug Abuse

Traditional abuse of cannabis in Morocco is common, although national drug statistics are not available. Cannabis is abused in its herbal form: "hashish", as a pastry: "maajoune" and in a mix of tobacco and cannabis, known as "kif". According to a sample survey on drug abuse among 500 students, 14 to 26 years of age, in Tanger, about 66.5% abused cannabis, 10.8% cocaine, 6.4% heroin and 4.9% prescription drugs. Frequent abuse is prevalent among 11.3% of the students, 18.6% used drugs occasionally and 8.1% once in a lifetime (Lamasouri 1993).

            Drug abuse among student, especially, in the region of Tanger is believed to be significantly higher than elsewhere in Morocco. In addition to cannabis abuse, it is reported that the abuse of sedatives (barbiturates, benzodiazepines, among others), volatile solvents, heroin, opium, morphine, synthetic narcotic analgesics, cocaine, coca paste and amphetamines is prevalent but not significant (U.N. 1993).

Abuser Characteristics

Opiates abusers tend to be 20 to 30 years of age, cannabis abusers 18 to 60 years of age, sedatives abusers tend to fall in the 17 to 50 age range and volatile solvents abusers in the 8 to 14 age range (U.N. 1991).  According to the 1993 Annual Reports Questionnaire, drug abuse is more pronounced among youth (U.N. 1993).

            Volatile solvents are abused mostly by pre-adolescents and by underprivileged children. Drug consumption tends to be more prevalent among the underprivileged (U.N. 1993).

            Drug abuse is pronounced among males but not negligible among females: the female to male ratio is estimated to be 1:30 for opiates and cocaine, 1:2 for sedatives, and 1:10 for volatile solvents (U.N. 1991).  According to the 1993 Annual Reports Questionnaire, drug abuse among women is increasing (U.N. 1993).

                                                                       Regional Variations

Newly available drugs in the illicit market tend to be mainly abused in Northern cities (such as Tanger and Tיtouan) and sporadically, in Casablanca and Marrakech (U.N. 1991). The abuse of heroin and cocaine is relatively high in certain cities at the Northern border of the country (U.N. 1993).


Cannabis has been the main drug of traditional abuse for many years. It has been mostly smoked but also eaten as a pastry. During the seventies the main drug of abuse remained cannabis , although abuse of sedatives, amphetamines and volatile solvents was also prevalent. In the eighties, the lacing of cannabis cigarettes with other drugs became prevalent. Since the late nineties, heroin and cocaine were introduced into the drug scene, especially in the North (Lamasouri 1993).


            In 1993, a large increase in the abuse of heroin and cocaine was reported.  Some increase was reported for cannabis, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and other sedatives, as well as for volatile solvents.  Consumption of amphetamines was reported stable.  The increase in the demand of drugs has been attributed to socio-economic upheavals (U.N. 1993).

            A tendency towards poly drug consumption has been reported (U.N. 1993).

Mode of Intake

Injecting of morphine, synthetic narcotic analgesics and heroin is prevalent but to a limited extent. Heroin is reported to be mostly inhaled.  Opium and volatile solvents are inhaled.  Coca paste, cannabis (to a limited extent), amphetamine, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines are ingested.  Cannabis is mostly smoked.  And Cocaine tends to be sniffed (U.N. 1993).

            Heroin is reported taken in combination with cocaine, cannabis, psychotropic substances and alcohol.  Morphine is also reported taken in combination with these substances.  Barbiturates, as well as benzodiazepines, are taken with alcohol, cannabis, and heroin.  Volatile solvents are reported taken with psychotropic substances (U.N. 1993).



Social and economic costs and consequences of drug abuse are reported to be significant but difficult to assess (U.N. 1993).  No further information has been reported in the Annual Reports Questionnaire.

            According to a survey, conducted from 1986 through 1994, on HIV positive or AIDS affected persons, out of the 202 AIDS cases registered in Morocco by June 1994, 23 were contaminated by intravenous drug use (IVU) (U.N. 1993).



National Strategy

A National Committee Against Drug Abuse was created in 1977, comprising representatives from various ministries.  A National Plan of Action has also been elaborated (Morocco 1993).

                                                    Structure of National Drug Control Organs

The central government unit responsible for liaison and coordination of national drug control policy is the  National Drugs Commission within the Ministry of Public Health. The Ministry is also the competent authority for the issuance of drug import and export certificates and authorizations (CPF 1993; U.N. 1993).



                                                                         Treaty Adherence

Morocco is party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (ratified on December 7th, 1966), to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances (ratified on February 11th, 1980), and to the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

            The United States of America and Morocco signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in 1983; it was ratified by the U.S.A. in 1984, but still awaits Moroccan ratification.  In 1989, Morocco and the U.S.A. signed a bilateral narcotics cooperation agreement in compliance with the Chiles Amendment.  The agreement provides for cooperation in the fight against illicit production, trafficking, and abuse of narcotics.  Morocco also has bilateral anti-narcotics or mutual legal assistance agreements with the EC, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the UK, and is a member of Interpol (INCSR 1993).

                                                 Measures Taken with Respect to Drug Control

Recently enacted laws and regulations:
None reported.

Licensing system for manufacture, trade and distribution:
There is a government-controlled licensing system. No manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances was reported.

Control system:
(i) Prescription requirement: There is a prescription requirement for supply or dispensation of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(ii) Warnings on packages: The law requires warnings on packages or accompanying leaflet information to safeguard the users of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(iii) Control of non-treaty substances, if any: None reported.
(iv) Other administrative measures: None reported.

                                                                          Social Measures

Penal sanctions related to social measures: In 1991, courts applied measures of treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation or social reintegration for a drug-related offence in addition to conviction or punishment. No data was supplied for 1993.

Other social measures: None reported.


                                                       DEMAND REDUCTION ACTIVITIES

Primary Prevention

Different sectors of the media (television, radio, newspapers, and magazines) have been active in promoting anti-drug messages.  Posters presenting drug prevention messages are targeted at youth.  Formal and informal mechanisms of collaboration exist between the media and health professionals, and the Ministry of Public Health.  Regular contacts are held between this ministry and the media in order to inform the different sectors of the media about drug-related problems (U.N. 1993).

            Drug prevention activities are promoted at different levels of education.  They have been carried out in secondary schools since 1989 and drug education has become part of the curricula from 1993.  Further education levels have also adopted prevention activities starting from 1989.  Higher education initiated prevention activities in 1984 and drug education was made part of the curricula in 1985 (U.N. 1993).

            Some of the prevention activities undertaken in the above institutions are: courses in school programmes, extracurricular activities, courses in certain faculties of higher education, workshops (discussion groups) and seminars for the teaching staff of primary and secondary schools, lectures, and consciousness-raising activities among school students (U.N. 1993).

            The first training course on drug abuse for professionals in the fields of health and social work was held in the Maghreb region in 1992 (Morocco 1993).  Medical and pharmacist students in universities are trained in the rational use of psychotropic substances (CMO 1991).

            Community-wide prevention programmes are carried out in the form of awareness campaigns targeted at parents, youth and drop-outs.  Activities include meetings, debates, exhibitions, sporting and religious events (CMO 1991).

            Ministry of Health officials have established a library of technical drug abuse materials and a model drug treatment center in Rabat, both with European Union (EU) funding.  Also with EU backing, the Ministry of Health has undertaken a study of drug abuse patterns in Morocco.  A number of private organizations and educational institutions are trying to develop anti-narcotics education and treatment programmes (INCSR 1993).

Treatment and Rehabilitation

The treatment and rehabilitation consists of hospitalization of drug abusers, mainly in psychiatric institutions. Detoxification is often based on drug substitution and rehabilitation. It has been estimated that about 500 drug related patients are treated in psychiatric hospitals every year (U.N. 1993).


                                                        SUPPLY REDUCTION ACTIVITIES

Arrests, Convictions and Types of Offenses

The number of persons arrested for drug related offenses has slightly increased since 1987, reaching 10,000 in 1991.  Drug related offenses represent approximately 3.5 per cent of all offenses.  In recent years, there has been and increase in foreign drug traffickers operating in Morocco; whereas, previously, Moroccan traffickers delivered drugs abroad (Morocco 1992).


In 1992, 27.272 kg of cannabis (liquid), 27,022.748 kg of cannabis herb, 65,540.028 kg of cannabis resin, 5.471 kg of cocaine (base and salts) and 0.452 kg of heroin were seized (U.N. 1992).

            In 1991, 4.300 kg of cannabis (liquid), 20,705.216 kg of cannabis herb, 50,600 units of cannabis plants, 41,478.973 kg of cannabis resin, 16.953 kg of cocaine (base and salts), 0.088 kg of heroin, .120 kg of morphine, and 19,945 units of depressants were seized (U.N. 1991).

                                                                    Supply Source of Drugs

At the micro level, a study among students found that drugs were obtained primarily from friends (55.1%), from small dealers (25.3) and traffickers (17.4%). All small scale dealers were males, between 14 to 25 years of age, and occasionally, as young as 10 years old. They come from neglected homes, often fatherless, with a poor school record and in need for a source of income (Lamasouri 1993).

Morocco is one of the world's largest producers of cannabis.  It is mostly produced by small farmers in the Rif Mountain region in Northern Morocco, although some production also occurs in the Souss Valley in the South (INCSR 1993).  Most of it is processed into hashish resin or oil and exported to Europe.  About 27.2 percent of the cannabis consumed in Europe,  originates in Morocco according to Interpol sources cited by Lamsaouiri in a 1993 report. Moroccan cannabis products also flow into Algeria and Tunisia for consumption or in transit to Europe (INCSR 1993).

            Cannabis cultivation in Morocco is increasing. The area under cultivation is estimated at 50,000 hectares, according to a 1993 official report.  This is attributed to increased returns associated with illicit crops.  Governmental sources report that Morocco has become also a transit country for drug trafficking to Europe (Morocco 1993).

            Interpol also reported in 1990 that international illicit traffic in cannabis has increased and become better organized.  Morocco and Lebanon remain the principal sources of cannabis resin seized in Europe (CPF 1993).

            Until mid-1992, most cocaine traffickers arrested in Morocco, who arrived to Casablanca airport on flights from Latin America, were, in most cases, in transit to Spain and Portugal, and perhaps further into Europe.  Arrests of cocaine traffickers in the Tangier area increased in 1992.  Government officials suspect that Morocco is becoming a transit centre for West Africans, particularly Senegalese, traffickers of cocaine, mainly through Casablanca to Europe. Traffickers from Latin America and West Africa traveling through Morocco to Europe by air, use sea shipment into the ports of Casablanca and Tangier, and a combination of trucks and boats to Spanish territories.  According to U.S.A. reports, small quantities of heroin, presumably of Middle Eastern origin, transit through Morocco and Algeria to Spain and France  (INCSR 1993).

References and Notes


U.N. 1991, 1992, 1993. Replies to the UNDCP "Annual Reports Questionnaire" for the years 1991, 1992 and 1993.

CMO 1991. Reply to the questionnaire regarding the seven targets of the "Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control", 1991.

CPF 1993.  UNDCP Country Programme Framework, Morocco, 1993.

INCSR 1993.  International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. United States Department of State.  Bureau of International Narcotics Matters.  April 1993.

Lamasouri 1993. Drogue, Adolescence et Milieu Scolaire.

Morocco 1992. "Rapport exposant sommairement la situation actuelle du traffic illicite des stupיfiants au Royaume du Maroc, Communication from the Permanent Mission of Morocco".  May 14th 1992.

Morocco 1993. Declaration of Morocco to the 36th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), 1993.


** The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was prepared by the Secretariat of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs based on Annual Reports Questionnaire 1988-91, 1993.