Kenya Softens Stand on Marijuana After Rwanda Legalisation

  • Undated image of a marijuana plantation
    Undated image of a marijuana plantation
  • Education and Research Principal Secretary (PS) Simon Nabukwesi encouraged more research on the health benefits of marijuana and miraa. 

    The PS noted that Kenya needs scientific findings to back up the consumption of the two products. He challenged scientists to find if the products have any health benefits.

    Speaking at the Pwani University Bioscience Research Centre at Pwani University in Kilifi, Nabukwesi noted that the issue fn miraa and marijuana consumption cannot be approached politically only but there's a need to look at the science.

    Education and Research Principal Secretary (PS) Simon Nabukwesi
    Ministry of Education Principal Secretary Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi

    “We are being told that consumption of miraa is a health hazard but how dangerous is it to someone’s body when they chew the crop. Our researchers should tell us the benefit of miraa so that people can know its benefits," the PS was quoted by the Nation.

    “There is a need for people in countries that record-high consumption of miraa to know the value of chewing the crop and this can help us expand our markets internationally,” he added.

    PS Nabukwesi further stated that Kenya could secure markets in the United Kingdom for miraa which was highly consumed before the government banned the product.

    This comes amid calls by a section of politicians led by Senator Ledama Ole Kina who encouraged the government to look into the legalization of Marijuana for export purposes.

    On September 22, 2020, a video of the senator emerged while he was showing off a vast parcel of marijuana plantation during his trip to Lithuania.

    The lawmaker spoke to, and disclosed that he was considering reviving former Kibra MP the late Ken Okoth's 2018 bill that sought to legalise bhang.

    He explained that he was considering the move for "health reasons and also for hemp commercial reasons."

    In the video, Ledama is seen nearly buried by the plants as he lists the medical benefits of the plant that has been a source of debate over the years.

    "I am right in the middle of a firm in a place called Lithuania. What you can see here is actually Marijuana and it is taller than me. Why is it that we in Kenya are still stuck in the old ways of saying that this is an illegal drug?

    "My host is telling me that this is Hemp and it is used for construction. If this is good in reducing the pain for cancer, why not legalise it?" he posed.

    In July 2021, Rwanda became the first county in East Africa to legalise the medical use of marijuana. The country inched closer to mass production and export of the multi-billion-dollar cash crop.

    Undated image of a marijuana plantation
    Undated image of a marijuana plantation
    drug illegal