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Morocco: Benkirane freezes membership of Justice and Development over cannabis legalisation

Cannabis plants are pictured in a field near the town of Ketama in Morocco on September 2019 [FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images]
Cannabis plants are pictured in a field near the town of Ketama in Morocco on 2 September 2019 [FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images]

Head of the Moroccan government Saadeddine Othmani called on members of the Justice and Development Party to refrain from commenting on the decision of the party's former Secretary-General Abdelilah Benkirane to freeze his membership, due to the adoption of a bill to legalise the use of cannabis.

Othmani stated: "The general secretariat of the party will study the issue in order to take the appropriate initiatives in a suitable manner that helps facilitate discussion and strengthens the means of understanding and comprehension, within the framework of efforts to serve the country and the interests of the party," according to a statement published on the party'sofficial website on Friday evening.

Earlier, Benkirane had announced the suspension of his partymembership, following the members' vote in favour of the cannabis bill.

He also announced that he had severed relations with Othmani, Mustafa Ramid, Minister of Labour Mohamed Amkraz, the Minister of Energy Aziz Rabbah and former minister Lahcen Daoudi.

Benkirane had previously threatened to withdraw from the party if his deputies adopted the controversial bill.

On Thursday, the Moroccan government approved a bill to legalise the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

By legalising cannabis, Morocco seeks to attract global investment by luring companies specialising in the legitimate uses of cannabis for medical uses.

Legalising the legitimate uses of cannabis has been debated in Morocco for some time now, while continuing to generate controversy on social media platforms.

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