Essaouira, Morocco

Smoking tolerance level [1= very illegal 5=virtually legal]: 4

Legislation: Smoking marijuana, or “kif” is illegal in the Kingdom of Morocco and the penalty for being caught with it is ten years in prison. However, tourists are frequently let off with only a fine due to Morocco’s need for both the tourism dollars and the $US7 billion dollars that makes kif their largest source of foreign currency.

Law enforcement: If you don’t smoke openly in public (i.e. on the beach), you won’t have any problems.

Where to buy marijuana: Morocco has very high unemployment and, as a result, there are always bored young men wandering around who see themselves as “guides” but are frequently little more than dealers. If you’re approached by someone offering his services, he can almost certainly sort you out or point you in the direction of someone who can, even if he doesn’t initially mention hash.

Marijuana prices: $1-2 a gram. More expensive than the Rif as the dealers have to bribe the police to get their shipments down from the mountains (as they will be keen to tell you).

Marijuana brands: Most of what is available down in the south of morocco is cheap, faily low quality hash. It is frequently adulterated with henna and it’s thereofre worth pressing your dealer for some of the better stuff that he ineviitably keeps and smokes himself. At worst, you are going to buy a lump of hash that British smokers will be familiar with as “soapbar”. At best, there’s some nice stuff down here, though not usually of the quality you find in the Rif mountains.

More information: Essaouira is a sea-side town that has recently begun to transform itself from faded hippy destination to a “Moroccan riviera town”. There are increasing numbers of middle class, middle aged Europeans here. It is also the wind-surfing capital of Morocco with constant wind and relatively shetered, peaceful seas. Hendrix, Cat Stevens, Orson Welles and many others have lived here in the past. There is now a huge and, by all accounts, quite spectacular festival of Moroccan music here every year. Despite its gentrification, it’ still a very nice place.

Taghazoute is just down the coast from Essaouira, towards Agadir. It is Morocco’s board surfing capital and also plays host to large numbers of caravanners from Europe who over-winter here. It’s a pleasant enough place, though a bit dull if you’re not into surfing, drinking cheap spirits and wife swopping! The surfing community guarantees a good supply of hash and other drugs. We saw some poor quality opium here.