Morocco is the world’s largest producer of kif, or cannabis, growing 47,000 tons a year. Most comes from the Rif mountains, a poor region near the Mediterranean coast. The population of the Rif mountains suffers from an almost total lack of public services. With only a few tracks through the area and no electricity or piped water, it is difficult to make a living from growing traditional crops. Schools and hospitals are in short supply. During the past 10 years, the area devoted to growing cannabis has more than doubled, gradually replacing traditional crops of olives and cereals and breeding of livestock.

Farmers make ten times more money from cannabis than from barley. The terraced fields are so tiny that all the work has to be done by hand, with rudimentary tools. The street value of the cannabis cultivated in the Rif and sold in Europe is 50 times what the farmers earn from their crop. Moroccan cannabis generates 10 billion Euros per year; the vast majority of the money goes to the traffickers.