Recently, Rose Wanjiru was charged with a 30-year jail sentence without the option of bail after being found guilty of trafficking bhang worth Ksh. 2,820. You can’t make this stuff up. Meanwhile, the criminals who are looting Kenya’s money in sacks are living it up in uptown posh residencies without a care in the world.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act of 1994 classifies the possession, sale, growing and distribution of marijuana as illegal. Despite this, a high percentage of Kenyans have indulged at least once with the drug and quite a number of the population have turned to it for recreational purposes. In a 2017 survey carried out on Kenyans aged 15-65, results showed that 12.2% were using alcohol, 8.3% were using tobacco, 4.1% were using khat/miraa and 1.0% were using bhang/cannabis.
There have been a number of Kenyan leaders who have tried to petition for the decriminalization of marijuana. Kibra MP Ken Okoth last year joined a trailblazer of leaders including Gwada Okot and Raila Junior in trying to campaign for the legalization of cannabis in Kenya. Okot says that cannabis is Africa’s most valuable cash crop with the capacity to satisfy her industrial, medicinal, spiritual and nutritional needs. Africa’s revival is therefore intrinsically tied to its legalization. Research conducted in March last year petitioned the National Assembly’s Health committee to legalise bhang, claiming Kenya loses Sh1.5 trillion annually in foreign exchange. Here are the health benefits and risks of Cannabis.
In 2015, Colorado collected more than $135 million in taxes and fees on medical and recreational marijuana. According to the Central Bank of Kenya, our government’s public debt is at Ksh. 5.2 trillion. If marijuana is made legal in Kenya, we surely will have a lucrative chance at not only paying our debts but also increasing our economic growth. If stringent measures are placed whilst handling cannabis legalization, setting up marijuana nurseries will be among the key implementations.
Considering how fertile parts of Kenya are, there will definitely be exceptional growth in the industry thus creating job opportunities for many. This is a crisis we grapple with as Kenya, having an acute high number of graduates who are left hustling for jobs all across the country. It was established that six million Kenyans are currently unemployed bringing thousands of families to despondently live below the standards of living.
New Frontier’s report predicting the impact of legal marijuana suggests that nationwide legalization could generate 1.1 million jobs by 2025. These jobs would likely come from the quickly growing industry which would spring up across the nation. Workers would be needed to farm, process, distribute, and sell marijuana-based products. Further, there would be ample opportunities for secondary industries which were related to legal cannabis although not directly involved in its production and distribution. These might include software developers, financing services, construction companies, and many others. Here are 50 Unexpected Benefits of Cannabis (you might not know)
The hardy cannabis plant is less susceptible to fluctuations in weather and other environmental conditions than other plants, such as cotton. This means that farmers are more likely to profit from their investment in an industrial marijuana crop, and are able to grow a substantial amount of hemp in a relatively small acreage. Maintenance is also low compared to the high output.
Soil is increasingly enriched. The growth pattern of this plant naturally creates more nutrient-rich soil. Because the dense leaves block sunlight, few weeds grow among industrial hemp crops. The deep roots of the plants provide nitrogen and other minerals to the earth while reducing the salinity of the groundwater and minimizing topsoil erosion. In addition, this crop is ideal for composting to grow other plants, such as wheat.
Instead of criminalising this drug, the Kenyan government should think about legalizing it and have strict oversight over it.
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Featured image via https://nccih.nih.gov.