Smoking hashish in Morocco is commonplace but illegal. If you are visiting Morocco and you're hauling a backpack, you will probably be offered hashish (a form of marijuana) several times on your first day there. Many young people who travel to Morocco consider the easy availability of hashish (or kif as the locals call it) as a major reason to visit. While hash is smoked by a large percentage of the male population in Morocco, it is illegal. We do not encourage any illegal activity, especially when traveling internationally, it is a fact that many people do use hash when they are in Morocco and they should be informed of some issues surrounding smoking kif.
Don't be afraid to say no to persistent young men offering kif if you are not interested. It is likely that you will be offered a carpet or a tour in the same breath, so be polite but firm and move on.
Buying Hashish (Kif) in Morocco
Anyone looking for kif won't have to look far for a dealer in Morocco—there will be plenty of young men offering hashish for sale on the streets. But just as with any controlled substance, buying off a stranger in the street is never the way to go. Although smoking hashish is illegal in Morocco, plenty of local men still do. Most experienced travelers will tell you that if you do want to engage in the illegal custom while in Morocco, the best way is to acquaint yourself with locals who you feel you can trust.
Smoking with local men will generally mean the kif is of decent quality and less likely to be mixed with other more harmful substances. If you have smoked hashish before, then beware that the homegrown variety is reportedly more potent than what you may be used to at home.
Smoking Hashish or Kif
Hashish (kif) is basically processed cannabis (marijuana). It looks like a piece of sticky brown clay. The colors will vary depending on the type and quality of the hashish. Hashish is usually crumbled, mixed with tobacco and then rolled into a joint (cigarette) or smoked in a pipe. You can buy small pipes (sebsis) or water pipes (hookahs) in most markets around Morocco. The pipes will not be displayed openly but venture inside some of the small bazaars and you'll find them.
In every Moroccan city, you will find small cafes where local men smoke their water pipes while playing cards and drinking mint tea. These places are probably the best places to smoke for men if accompanied by locals. Female tourists, on the other hand, look very awkward in these cafes. There are also plenty of backpacker hostels and guesthouses where some travelers may feel safe enough to smoke, especially in towns like Chefchaouen. But even in these locales, smoking hashish is still illegal and always carries risk.
Tourists will also often smoke hash on a beach or other nature spots away from the general public.
Make sure you never smoke walking around town or in a public place, especially near mosques. The Lonely Planet Guide also suggests that you never travel with any hashish in your possession and that you should not trust street dealers (particularly those that seem to target tourists) since many are in fact police informers.
The Kif of the Rif
The Rif mountains (Northeast of Morocco) is where most of the cannabis (marijuana) is grown and processed into Hashish. People have been enjoying kif in the Rif mountains for centuries. According to the Lonely Planet Guide, the word "kif" stems from the Arabic word for "pleasure." But the casual use by a goat herder has been overtaken by a multi-million dollar industry. Nowadays, if you are traveling in this area you are assumed to be interested in buying drugs. Towns like Chefchaouen are a haven for stoned backpackers.
Needless to say, it's a mellow town with a good atmosphere and one of the safest places in Morocco for visitors. But there are plenty of towns where the drug business is all business and the scene is far from friendly. Ketama, in particular, is by all accounts a rough and dangerous place with plenty of scams involving drug dealers and police, so be careful if you decide to travel here.
Penalties for Smoking and Buying Hashish
The usual penalty for smoking or buying Hashish is 10 years imprisonment. Since cannabis is unofficially Morocco's biggest foreign currency earner, it is obvious that the government can hardly afford to make a serious crackdown on the business. Those who are most often fined or penalized are therefore the traveler smoking on a street or being careless when buying off an undercover policeman in a marketplace. If you ever find yourself in this situation, see if you can pay a fine on the spot rather than agreeing to go to prison; Moroccan jails are not pleasant places.
The U.S. State Department has some information about US citizens and their rights if they are caught with drugs abroad.