Petition to legalise cannabis sharply divides the Senate

Wednesday November 29 2017

A provincial administration officer carries

A provincial administration officer carries cannabis sativa (bhang) plants uprooted in Aberdare Forest. A proposal seeking to decriminalise cannabis is before the Senate. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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A proposal seeking to decriminalise cannabis and setting free people jailed on charges of possessing or using it has sharply divided the Senate.

In a petition presented to the House by Speaker Kenneth Lusaka on Wednesday, Mr Sammy Gwada Ogot says cannabis sativa has documented medicinal and industrial uses.

The petition invited furore from some senators who argued that its contents were outside the law.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and his Kisii counterpart Samson Ongeri said the House should not spend time discussing “something that is illegal”.

They said bhang was intoxicating and contributed to anti-social behaviour.

FALSE CONFIDENCE

“It will be wrong for the House to entertain the debate because this substance has destroyed young people,” said Prof Ongeri.

“Those who use bhang live in a world of false confidence. They believe they can do anything.”

Senators Ledama ole Kina (Narok), George Khaniri (Vihiga), Fred Outa (Kisumu), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi) and Isaac Mwaura (Nominated) said Mr Ogot should be given an opportunity to present his case.

Mr Kina said the petition was worth investigating as some studies had shown that bhang could be a pain killer.

“Let’s use this chance to invite experts to explain findings that marijuana is medicinal. Let’s carry research and if it is proved that it is therapeutic, there will be no reason we should not adopt it,” he said.