Over the past several decades, the legalization of cannabis has been a subject of debate in various countries. Considering that multiple countries are relaxing their laws on the use of cannabis, more states are either following suit or in the process of legalizing it. Still, the road to its legalization is somewhat lengthy for some countries due to the legislative hurdles.
According to Sensi Seeds, Kenya Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) classified cannabis as an illegal substance. Therefore, selling or using marijuana or bhang, as the locals refer to it, is against the law. A person found to be in possession of marijuana would be guilty of an offense. It can earn the person a jail term of up to ten years.
Considering that Kenya is a strategic country in East Africa, curbing trafficking is somewhat tricky. Consequently, this has birthed a significant illicit domestic market. Additionally, pop culture has also played a key role in popularizing cannabis, particularly among young adults.
Several legislatures and petitioners may soon change the narrative on cannabis laws in the country, though. Some of the proposals are geared towards decriminalizing bhang, a step that cannabis consumers celebrate in the country.
In his trip to visit a cannabis farm in Lithuania, Senator Ledama Olekina questioned why Kenya is still stuck in the old ways of listing cannabis as an illegal plant. Similarly, Kibra Member of Parliament introduced a bill in the National Assembly seeking to decriminalize cannabis.
Although Kenya has not legalized cannabis like New York or Colorado, things seem to be slowly changing. It means that marijuana consumers and businesses would someday be able to purchase cannabis accessories without facing any legal hurdles. However, this can only happen if various proposed bills are passed into laws.
Considering that the legalization of cannabis contributes to economic development, this can be a game-changer for a country like Kenya. Legalizing marijuana would create numerous opportunities for new businesses. Lowell Farms is a good example, showcasing how the cannabis industry has enormous potential.
Nevertheless, regulating cannabis consumption would be rather challenging since some might abuse the new privileges. The government would have to implement stringent measures to ensure that the new laws governing weed legalization are adhered to.
Similarly, growing cannabis in Kenya is also considered illegal. Therefore, a person is not permitted to cultivate the crop on their land. The penalty for cultivating marijuana includes a fine of Ksh 250,000 or a jail term of up to 20 years. To make matters worse, the person can lose the land to the government.
Medical marijuana use is no different. According to the Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, medical practitioners and dentists are prohibited from administering a psychotropic drug or narcotic substance to any person. Thus, cannabis cannot be used for medicinal purposes.
The growth of industrial hemp has a huge potential for the country. Compared to the Mathenge plant, which negatively affects livestock, plants, and humans, hemp helps the environment in several ways. The Mathenge plant was introduced in Kenya to combat deforestation. However, its adverse effects have raised concerns about its value.
Hemp only takes roughly seven months to grow, unlike the Mathenge plant, which can take three to four years. Ergo, hemp proves to be a better alternative for that and other reasons. Studies have shown that hemp serves as a better plant for combating deforestation. Additionally, there are a plethora of by-products that can come from the plant, which can boost the country’s economy.
Still, all these benefits can only become feasible when the country decides to legalize cannabis. Considering that more countries are relaxing their laws on marijuana, especially in Africa, it’s a step that could prompt Kenya to follow suit.
Kenyans also have a mixed viewpoint when it comes to the legalization of bhang. Some insist that cannabis should remain a banned substance. They believe that marijuana plays a massive role in character and moral degradation. On the other side, some argue that cannabis should be legalized for recreational and medical purposes.
Several Kenyan celebrities and musicians have also shown their support for legalizing cannabis. In fact, the support from these individuals has further popularized the notion of legalizing cannabis in the country.
Will cannabis ever the legalized in Kenya? Well, only time will tell. From the look of things, the growing push of legalizing marijuana seems to be getting a lot of attention in the public domain, sparking a lot of conversations. As more legislatures, celebrities, and citizens show their support for changes, there could be a shift sooner rather than later.