Morocco – The Kif From The Rif

1.jpg Although nowadays hashish and the country of Morocco have almost become synonymous with each other, due to the North African nation having a lion’s share of the world’s illicit market of the product, they are actually new to each other, relatively speaking.

It is estimated that anywhere from one-third to nearly half of all hashish sold around the world originates in Morocco, but until the 1960’s and the start of the huge influx of foreign ‘hippies’ into the country, much of the cannabis produced domestically went toward satisfying the native men’s appetite for kif (a mixture of tobacco and chopped pieces of marijuana). The enterprising, long-haired foreigners familiarized Moroccans with the procedure required to reduce cannabis plants to a much more potent form.


Use of a sieve to extract the resin powder from female plants, which can then be rubbed together to make hash in a matter of seconds, was practiced for some time in a few of the traditional hashish producing regions of Asia, most notably in The Lebanon’s Bekka valley, but Morocco’s cannabis farmers managed to perfect the art within a short amount of time, and given both the good reputation of their product and the country’s extremely favourable location in terms of maritime trade with Europe, they inevitably came to outdo the profits of traditional hashish exporting nations, such as Nepal, by the 1980’s.


Nearly all Moroccan hashish originates in the scenic Rif Mountains, which stretch from the Mediterranean Sea to the famous port city of Tangier. This region has traditionally been populated by Berber tribes, who for the most part have had a stormy relationship with the Arab-dominated central government and consequently the region has been ranked as the nation’s poorest for many decades. There seems to be a de-facto understanding in place between the powers that be in Rabat and the natives of the region that cannabis cultivation and the production of hashish are to be tolerated by the authorities as a means of economic self-reliance for the Rif Berbers.


Considering that nearly everyone, except government officials, concedes to hashish being Morocco’s most profitable export, there are invariably many shadowy elements at play in and around these mountains. Unfortunately the hashish trade also has a visceral relationship with another booming illicit trade from Morocco to Europe – illegal immigrants. Most Western European governments estimate the majority of Moroccans residing illegally in their countries to be Berbers from the Rif somehow involved in the hashish trade.


The pictures that accompany this report illustrate a routine sequence of events used to produce hashish at one of the many semi-furtive cannabis farms in the Rif. Note the drum method, used by the farmers on the pile of cannabis plants. Though any and all use of kif or hashish is technically illegal throughout Morocco, in towns such as Tangier men can frequently be seen carrying a traditional pipe (as seen in the last two pictures) inside their clothing, and discreet smoking of kif in cafes and shops is rather common.


Author – Arya Kazemi

  21 comments for “Morocco – The Kif From The Rif

  1. May 24, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Wow how interesting Arya.

    A fascinating change of pace and I love the photos. The lighting on #’s 9 and 12 are very sublime.

    A strangely captivating little piece.

  2. May 24, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Arya, I’d love to know how you managed to get invited into their circle and allowed to photograph such revealing images.

  3. May 24, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for the compliment Stiv.

    In the Rif region it’s fairly common for locals trying to make cash as tour guides to approach foreign tourists for a hike or drive into the sort of place featured in my piece. Keep in mind that being caught by law enforcement even just being around the stuff without necessarily partaking in a pipe ceremony or buying a few kilos worth is still enough to cause substantial legal problems (or hefty bribes).

    The cost of the whole adventure must be hammered out with your local guide beforehand, as they usually take tourists to a farm run by a family member–in my case a bit extra was charged for the right to take pictures, and all my images were checked by the proprietor of the farm before our departure to make sure no faces were captured in any of the shots.

  4. Jafar
    May 28, 2007 at 10:33 am

    As always, your articles are informative and fascinating. The seasoning of the points with pictures will assure that the reader will not miss anything. Following your travel articles will guide spectator to capture and understand different aspects of the traveled counties.

  5. May 30, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Very nice piece Arya; enjoyed both the read and the pics!

  6. Mike
    June 4, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Cool story. Truely inspireational. Where was your start off point and howmuch was the tour?

  7. June 8, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Mike,

    My starting point was the town of Ketama.

    If I remember correctly I paid the guide 20 Euros.

  8. Spiro
    June 12, 2007 at 3:29 am

    Am I missing something here, is this a glorification of Cannabis?

  9. Arya
    June 13, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    No, I actually never encourage the use of marijuana or any of its offsprings in the piece, but reckon the whole daredevil theme fits in quite well on this site.

    I even outlined the possible dangers of doing a similar excursion in an earlier comment.

  10. Eamon
    July 1, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Cannabis is already glorious Spiro!

    Great pictures Arya. I’m surprised at how little hash was produced from such a large amunt of leaf!

  11. Arya
    July 7, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    Hi Eamon,

    Since the great majority of stoners both in Morocco and abroad greatly prefer the resin to the leaves, the farmers in the Rif tend to harvest truckloads of cannabis in order to make a small profit on the prized powder.

  12. July 13, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    So, how was the weed?

  13. Arya
    July 15, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Damn it Jim! I keep telling y’all nobody smokes weed there per se, but you don’t seem to get it….maybe weed is something your a bit too familiar with (ha ha).

  14. July 16, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    So, was the weed good?

  15. Arya
    July 18, 2007 at 3:41 am

    That’s a good one Jim….a classic as a matter of fact!

  16. Fred Veilleux
    August 20, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Well it sure was good back in 1999! Although if I had not smoked so much I could have made it across the desert into Mauritania. Now that would have deserved a article… Still, as an eighteen year old canadian bum, Morocco was a very good and alien trip! This articlebrings back fine souvenirs! Can’t wait to get to the Horn of africa, just have to finish this darn degree first.

  17. Geoff
    October 22, 2007 at 2:30 am

    Good article, I would like to go sometime

  18. TheGreatDane
    December 9, 2007 at 11:09 am

    The main city in ketama area is called Iseguin.

  19. Lapot
    April 18, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    E aweee rapazeada, tudo bem?
    como que faz para poder adquirir
    um pouquinho desse KIF?
    se possível entre em contato.

  20. to Lapot
    November 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm


    sounds like a great adventure. might just make the trip. great article.

    i love kif.

  21. Kimma
    April 16, 2011 at 2:13 am

    I am going this weekend :)

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