Is Hashish The Only Way Out for Young Men in Morocco?

Photo accredited to YoTuT from United States - Marrakech, Morocco

Photo accredited to YoTuT from United States – Marrakech, Morocco

In western countries it is normal to attend primary school, high school and afterwards say goodbye to carefree days and go to university. People often say that the key to success is education and having the job of your dreams. As much as that’s true, not everyone is fortunate enough to have even one of those opportunities.

In Africa, more specifically in Morocco, the population is more than 33 million people. Anyone familiar with this country knows that hashish production and consumption is a very acute issue. More than 800,000 people rely on hashish as a primary source of the revenue. But who wouldn’t? When we look at the statistics, hashish generates 10 billion dollars annually in sales. As sad as it sounds, for a typical Moroccan, smoking hashish is normal everyday thing.

Growing up in a small city of Sefrou, in central Morocco might be difficult in many aspects. The education level is just average, there aren’t many attractions, and the unemployment rate very high. And this is just a small part of the difficulties locals are facing each day. Most young men are unemployed and spend most of their time smoking hashish.

“Almost 70 percent of my friends are smoking hashish”, says a 26 year old male who didn’t want to be named. As it is growing in their homeland, mostly Northern Morocco, it is very easy to get it. People sell hashish abroad as well, but it’s the same with every “good” thing: when you have plenty of it, you save some for yourself.

When people get asked about smoking hashish, the answer usually is- “Yes, but I am not addicted.” But when you think about it, how can one claim he’s not addicted, if it became a part of the daily routine? The most common excuse is that a hashish spliff helps to relief stress, makes one feel better, is a solution to everything. A spliff a day makes the problems go away.

 

Photo accredited to Viktorija Lipkaite – Hidden Morocco (Sefrou)

Well, not exactly. The whole addiction usually starts from an innocent cigarette. Later on it’s followed by smoking hashish and by then drinking alcohol, which is considered by the Moroccans as the worst type of intoxication. But in this situation, the worst part is that it all starts way before the high school, when you are 8-9 years old. “Hashish is in our culture, it is here, it’s what we grow, it’s naturally around in our environment”.

In Europe, if the police caught you smoking hashish, it is most likely you would end up in jail for sometime. In Morocco, you are kept in a police cell only for two nights, but the fine is 6000 dirham. There is a period of 6 months to pay the fine. If you don’t have the money to pay, you go straight to prison. Despite the consequences, men still smoke hashish and get away with it. “I think the government lets us smoke hashish so we don’t make trouble, it’s a way of controlling us”.

People also believe that hashish is a result of the unemployment problem. A very big majority of young Moroccans smoke it because they have nothing to do. They do it out of boredom. “If I was working, I wouldn’t be smoking”, says a 23-year-old male who also didn’t want to be named. Even if you have relevant skills, for example one of the boys is a carpenter; the other is a painter, they both face difficulties finding a job. It is possible to get a temporary day job, helping someone with their business, but it doesn’t last long. Looking for a job in the bigger cities is the same. A lot of effort, no luck.

Both young men spoken to are dreaming of the possibility to go and work abroad, to leave Morocco, but it is not that simple and not much can be done about it.

 

Viktorija Lipkaite

 

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