Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 19:31 pm (KSA) 16:31 pm (GMT)

Alchohol ban fuels Morocco Ramadan drug trade

With restaurants barred from serving alcohol during Ramadan, young Moroccans turn to drugs to get their highs – giving a boost to the lucrative drug trade throughout the Muslim holy month.

All over Casablanca, the club scene is the same—crowds of young people, loud music, frantic dancing, and shisha smoke. The only difference is – drugs instead of alcohol.

Moroccan hash, dope, and acid are the most commonly used drugs in the drug hangouts of Casablanca's slums.

"The mafia has a much larger stock than the pharmacies," a pharmacist said on condition of anonymity, adding that drugs are often smuggled from Algeria and Spain.

"The drugs are usually prescribed as tranquilizers or for nervous system diseases or Parkinson's. They are usually cheap, but dealers charge much more for them.

"A pack of tranquilizers usually costs 20 Moroccan dirhams (2 US dollars), while dealers charge 10 dirhams for one pill," he said.

A popular drug is called the "red lantern." There is also "the paste" made of flour and Indian cannabis. Dealers compete to prepare "the paste" and choose catchy names like "Chocolate," "The Killer," and "Stranger."

One piece of "the paste" weighs 5 grams and costs 10 Moroccan dirhams. The strongest types of this drug are mixed with narcotic medicines.

Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month of the Muslim calendar. Muslims around the world fast from dawn until dusk and try to give up all vices, such as drinking, smoking, anger, envy, greed and lust.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).

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