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Maverick researcher seeks to charm senators into legalising bhang

A researcher who filed a petition seeking the legalisation of marijuana in Kenya met with Senators on Thursday to present his case.

In his petition to the Senate Health Committee, Gwada Ogot, a researcher, writer and political analyst, is advocating for the establishment of a cannabis regulatory body, to be called Cannabis Sativa Board of Kenya,  that will oversee planting, trading and consumption of the plant.

He argues that research has indicated that bhang can be used for medicinal purposes to cure diseases.

According to Mr Ogot, bhang is disease resistant and can be replanted several times a year without use of pesticides.

SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC GAINS

He says the medicinal and industrial uses of the plant, upon its legalisation, will be of ‘great social and economic gains’.

Section 3 (2) (a) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act lists the drug as a banned substance. Possession and use of the drug is a criminal offence.

In his petititon, Mr Ogot argued that crimes and controversies over the plant are due to its prohibition, and indicated that if legalised, it can be one of the cash crops which improve the living standards besides boosting the country’s revenue.

Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula had said any attempt to legalise the growing, trading and consumption of bhang would take the country the wrong way.

OFFENDERS TO BE RELEASED

He appealed to the Health Committee, which has 60 days to look into the matter, to consider re-emphasising the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1994 that criminalises and outlaws bhang.

The petitioner further recommends people serving jail sentences either for possession, cultivation, transportation, sale or use of the plant be released from prison.

In supporting his proposals, Mr Ogot argues that as at December last year, several US states and at least 25 countries had decriminalised the use of cannabis.