Some call it herb, miwa, ngwai, ndom, ndukulu, godey, pot, kush and grass amongst many others whose descriptions vary from different hoods and grading.Photo: Courtesy

During a radio show a week ago, a popular afternoon drive presenter went live, alluding that there is nothing wrong with smoking ‘weed’, the so-called holy grass.

“Hiyo sio mbaya (that is not bad),” the hilarious host stunned listeners after a distressed caller had complained that her brother-in-law was taking bhang.

“This stuff is not legalized here. We are not in Uganda where the likes of Bobi Wine are allowed to farm it for their own domestic consumption,” a showbiz act told Pulse, responding to the remark.

It is not the first time that a local celebrity has gone open about smoking bhang. Late last year two members of a rock band openly told Pulse that they smoke bhang for refreshment. They did not mind if that was published. And after attending a number of youthful concerts where this band performs, we were shocked to find out that smoking ‘weed’ is nothing strange among their fans.

Still, many showbiz acts among them Huddah, Vanessa Chettle and Noti flow have in the past be seen in photographs that suggest that they know something about ‘weed’. The celebs who are connected with this are known to belong to a clique of urban youth who refer to bhang as ‘kush”

The truth is that even though illegal, the use of bhang among local celebrities and Pulsers in general is on the increase and it is strange that some do not even know it is illegal. Now, young people even smoke bhang openly in public showbiz events the way one would do cigarettes — with the latter, ironically, having less prominence due to laws that have led to demarcation of smoking areas.

From politicians, artistes, businessmen and corporates, many personalities in Kenya are said to be secretly abusing the drug, which is readily available on the streets and in clubs through secret cartels.

The abuse of bhang has become so rampant that a popular politician has now taken the matter to parliament; pushing the government to legalize the use of bhang. Globally, several countries have taken this route, legalizing bhang for recreational use

A week ago, a popular radio personality met with a young politician aspiring for Nairobi’s gubernatorial post during a club outing and before shaking hands, the presenter who was wearing a top bearing the symbol of the ‘herb’, asked the politician; “Should we legalize it?” The young politician, a close friend to the presented happily responded:

“It should be legalized,” as the two burst into a happy laughter and shook hands.

It is not only in Kenya where a section of celebrities and legislators are beginning a push for the legalization of ‘weed’ in the country. International celebrities such as Miley Cyrus seem to have their ‘lights up’. This is not a taboo topic in Hollywood. At some point, American actress Susan Sarandon confessed to being “stoned” at “almost all” award shows, joining a practice that is said to be common among other stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Justin Timberlake, and Kristen Stewart.

Closer home, early in the 80’s within the Eastlands area of Nairobi, a language of secrecy was required for the growing youths. A jargon for their everyday communication rather than Swahili or English so as to get around cultural taboos like crime, drug abuse and sex in the community; a dialect not understood by the older kin to avoid their ire. Hence a slang lingo known as sheng was coined from both Swahili and English; a language that suits them due to its dynamism that makes it rapidly evolve.

Through the years the use of Marijuana as a recreational drug has penetrated from the slums and has found its way to the uptown world. It comes in different slang names and titles. Some call it herb, miwa, ngwai, ndom, ndukulu, godey, pot, kush and grass amongst many others whose descriptions vary from different hoods and grading.

More and more people are being recruited to smoking this illegal drug as their daily drug of choice. In case you are mistaken that peddlers of marijuana in the uptown areas are hard-core dwellers of the slums, think again. The Pulse investigative team can independently confirm that the sale of this drug in the uptown market has generated a section of drug dealers and peddlers from well-off families who are minting thousands of shillings from it.

According to some consumers residing in the uptown area of Karen who sort anonymity, the herb, as they fondly refer to it, is one of the most sort-after drug by the affluent and those in the corporate world.

A research carried out by the Pulse team, revealed that the drug, which can be consumed in various domestic forms is the main drug of choice.

“Nowadays especially with Alco-blow checks being mounted everywhere, most corporates and rich kids prefer smoking marijuana as it gives a lasting high and can go undetected by the authorities. As a matter of fact, you are bound to part with a lesser bribe if they find you high from marijuana than drunken driving,” said a source.

In yet another revelation, a taxi driver within Westland’s area confirmed that indeed youngsters sometimes pay him a fee at night to puff while he drives around and then drop them off in a club where after cleansing up with some perfumed lotion, they enter the club high without giving a single clue.

“Sometimes a group of five clients — both male and female — will pay about Sh500 for a short drive within the club. If it looks safe I will just step outside and stay guard while they comfortably puff with the car fan on to disperse the smoke. Afterwards, I use air freshener and in less than half an hour the stench is completely gone. They do it a lot,” he revealed.

In recent years, partaking of marijuana amongst many party goers has been associated with ‘being cool and getting a nice high’.

In yet another discovery, most uptown house parties, outdoor gatherings and popular hangouts never lack weed, which comes in high demand.

Wonder where the supply comes from? Evans Rotich who resides in Lang’ata says that a lot of his friends know ‘ganja’ peddlers who will deliver to your door step personally.

“I don’t smoke but I have friends who do and whenever we have house parties or when we drive out of town, they will get their stash delivered and they will smoke as we drive. Not even a police check will get a clue as all the open windows leave the car clean off the smoke,” he says.

Carly — an architecture student in one of the leading universities — admits that the herb has ceased to be viewed as a drug but as a form of recreation, an entertainment.

“Almost every day before lunch we indulge by having a few puffs then head out to a nearby mall where we ravenously eat to our fill,” she says.

A source that was once a victim to the substance couldn’t hold back speaking on his experience after he was rushed to a clinic for ingesting one too many weed laced muffins. Being his first experience, he says, his connect advised him to only have two bites of the muffin but he thought himself wiser and took two muffins. They were ‘just muffins after all’.

“I remember sweating profusely and being too high that I lost track of everything. The guy who sold them to me had warned that ingesting weed for beginners was lethal but I couldn’t hear any of that. The next thing I remember I was rushed to hospital by my big brother,” confesses our source.

Various ‘weed’ types come in different sizes mostly measured in grams according to our investigation.

The peddlers’ pack buds of bhang in different denomination bags. The cheapest is referred to as a quarter (approximately 7 grams) and retails between Sh250 and Sh400. College students, taxi drivers and casual workers are the highest consumers of this pack according to our informer. Then there is the ‘punch bag’ (approximately 14 grams), which retails from Sh500 to Sh700. This is mostly associated with the middleclass. The highest retail packs, the G – Bag’ (30grams), retails between Sh1,000 and Sh1,500.

These price rates are for experienced weed smokers who prefer to grind, sanctify, known as “ku – sanif”, and roll their own buds of cannabis. In some instances, the consumers will mix their stash with other products such as tobacco while junkies will sprinkle hard drugs before rolling it up. Popularly known as Rizla, rolling paper is available at most retail outlets and may be acquired in various flavors too from vanilla to chocolate. However, for casual and spontaneous consumers, their stock is available in rolled-up form known as a joint or ‘stick’ in sheng. Their retail prices however vary depending on locality and grade.

High grade will mostly retail at between Sh50 and Sh100 a joint on the street and between Sh100 and Sh200 in the leafy suburbs. In the slums, a lower grade known as bush will retail for as low as Sh10 and Sh30 a roll.

For most party goers, ‘weed’ maintains their high and makes them spend less on alcohol.

“In Nairobi, a huge percentage of young people smoke at least a few puffs before going to the club. It makes you feel nice and ensures you have a good time. ‘Weed’ smokers really love each other,” confessed another consumer.

For the non-smokers, ‘ganja’ has also gone edible. According to Josephine* (not her name) whenever her girls have a night out and want to go wild, they call a friend who orders for ‘weed’ cookies and muffins.

“They are sweet and leave neither foul taste nor smell; you can hardly tell them apart from ordinary cookies. Besides, you suffer from zero hangovers.” She said with a giggle.

“You cannot tell ‘weed’ biscuits or cake from the normal one. It is so easy for the ladies to carry them around in their bags to any premises, even into entertainment spots,” said our source.