Meru senator seeks to remove miraa from narcotics list

Senate Deputy Speaker and Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Meru Senator and Senate Deputy Speaker Kathuri Murungi wants miraa removed from the list of narcotics and psychotropic substances.

Miraa farmers are worried as the crop faces threats of being banned in Mombasa and Kilifi counties.

Murungi said miraa supports about half a million people in Meru County who have been adversely affected due to lost market in some areas and abroad.

Speaking at a forum on the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) (Amendment) Bill 2024, dubbed the 'Miraa Bill', the senator said the importance of the crop to a large population in Meru cannot be disputed.

Through the proposed Bill, Murungi is leading legal efforts to have miraa removed from the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act, to promote its production, marketability and development. 

“In the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic (Control) Amendment Bill, 2024, the intent is to only remove cathine and cathinone as naturally found in miraa from the list of psychotropic substances,” he said.

“These bring a contradiction, where three statutory instruments under the laws of Kenya provide for the development of the miraa industry while another Act continues to classify its components as psychotropic substances. The Bill seeks to correct these anomalies and inconsistencies and to do justice to farmers and traders, who have had to endure untold pain as their enterprise is victimised and criminalised,” he said.

The deputy Senate Speaker said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had not placed miraa under international control as the level of abuse and threat to public health was not significant to warrant it.

The presence of cathinone and cathine in miraa which are classified in the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (Control Act) remains a legal hurdle in the development of miraa.

“The entrepreneurs in the manufacture of the various miraa products expressed frustrations since their products could not be licensed, because cathine and cathinone are prohibited substances under the laws of Kenya, hindering their products from reaching the intended market. They, however, expressed optimism that such hindrances will be removed since the government has shown goodwill in supporting the miraa sector,” Murungi said.

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