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Tunisia and Morocco on the Road Towards a New Cannabis Policy – a Slow Start and the First Fruits

While just a few years ago, it was still taboo to talk about legalising cannabis in Morocco and Tunisia, nowadays, everyone is talking about it.

Thanks to a law that was reformed just recently, but which even now punishes almost any contact with hemp with a 1 to 25-year prison sentence, Tunisia’s jails are still full of cannabis users. These draconian punishments, which were introduced in 1992 under ex-dictator Ben Ali, were amended very slightly at the end of March by the new Tunisian government following massive public criticism. Judges are now allowed to grant a pardon for a first offence.


Some Arab governments are rethinking harsh cannabis laws

“WHEN we think about our future, our dreams, we have nothing,” says a young man in Sidi Bouzid. Life in the Tunisian town that launched the Arab spring has barely changed since the country’s old dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, was ousted in 2011. Unemployment is even higher nationally than before the uprising. Young people are worst-off, which helps explain why an alarming number join jihadist groups. The frustration drives others, including this young man, to use zatla, the local name for cannabis.


Tunisia must reform 'draconian' drug laws

Drug law reformers have warned that 'Law 52' is 'destroying lives'

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed Tunisia’s “draconian” drug laws, which have resulted in drug offences accounting for 28 percent of the prison population.

The organisation’s new report condemns the controversial “Law 52,” passed under former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, which stipulates harsh penalties for drug use in the country.


Cannabis: why it is urgent to reform the "law 52" in Tunisia

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that Tunisia was to reform the "law 52", a controversial text which makes it systematically punishable by imprisonment of drug consumption, mainly cannabis.

In a report entitled "All this for a seal," published on January 2, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), based in New York, denounced the "social cost" of the "Law 52", enacted in 1992 by the dictatorship of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Legislation that provides for a minimum sentence of one year of drug use in prison and prohibited judges to take into account mitigating circumstances.


Tunisia: Widespread Abuses Under Drug Law

A draft law to reduce penalties for drug use would stop short of fixing major human rights concerns in the current law, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Tunisian authorities should revise the law to eliminate all prison sentences for recreational drug use or possession.


Tunisia: Abuse widespread under the law against drugs

The new bill reduces sentences, but still contains some troubling flaws

(Tunis) - A new drugs bill would reduce penalties for drug use without answering all the concerns raised by human rights with the current law, declared the Human Rights Watch in a report released today. The Tunisian authorities should revise the law to eliminate all prison terms for use or possession of drugs for recreational purposes.


Marijuana laws take a new turn in Middle East

Recently Mexico became one of the few countries to legalize marijuana cultivation and possession, joining Bangladesh, Colombia, Uruguay, and others. But in some regions, most specifically the Middle East, there is a set of strict laws when it comes to cannabis possession or cultivation.

Marijuana or cannabis is not specifically banned in Islam but its effects have been likened to alcohol, which is banned by the religion, that’s why its ban is so widespread in the Islamic countries for religious reason.



The Pirate Party of Tunisia has set the decriminalization of cannabis as a priority in their next elections. Earlier the main political parties have committed to address this. However, the State has been passive regarding the revision of Law 52 on consumption of illegal substances. This law has been used to incarcerate more than 1,500 youths since the last elections in 2014.

The Pirate Party of Tunisia has noted several negative developments regarding changing this law:


North Africa: Alarming Rise of Moroccan Cannabis in the Maghreb Region

Shaheed Elhafed — The drug seizures in the region countries have reached alarming proportions in recent months, according to press sources of the countries affected by the cannabis trafficking.

"The plague is gaining ground and taking dangerous proportions," said the press highlighting that "inquisitors investigations were often revealing and the discoveries confirm the transformations in the matter" in reference to changes in the methods used by traffickers to route their poison.



50 Percent of Tunisian Students Have Consumed Alcohol and Marijuana

A new study published by Assabah on Wednesday reveals the popularity of drugs in schools and educational institutions, showing that about 50 percent of students smoke marijuana and drink alcohol. Since the revolution, drug addiction rates in Tunisia have reportedly increased by 70 percent.

Surveys concluded that marijuana is the most used drug in Tunisia, followed by cocaine, and heroin. Subutex, originally a medication for the treatment of addiction to heroin and other drugs, has particularly gained popularity since being essentially introduced, illegally, to the Tunisian market after the revolution.


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