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Bhang is illegal, don't mislead the youth, Matiang'i warns politicians

 Rolls of bhang stuffed in a sack. Police seized 10 sacks of bhang and managed to arrest one suspect in Webuye Town. [Juliet Omelo, Standard]

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has warned politicians against misleading the youth about bhang.

Dr Matiang'i said drug abuse had worsened due to false promises made to young people by some politicians.

In a statement read on his behalf by Interior Cabinet Administrative Secretary Winnie Guchu during this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Matiang'i cautioned politicians against using the youth to drive their campaign agenda.

"We have observed leaders mobilising youth through misinformation and false promises such as legalisation of cannabis for commercial and recreation purposes if elected," stated the CS.

He accused politicians of citing countries where bhang is legalised and used for recreational purposes without backing their claims with factual information on controls put in place.

Roots Party presidential candidate George Wajackoyah has been advocating legalisation of bhang. He insists that if elected president, he will legalise consumption, encourage mass production and export of the drug.

Matiang'i reminded Wajackoyah that the laws on narcotics and psychotropic substances remain in place and are going to be observed to the latter.

"Cannabis remains a controlled substance with clear penalties. Nobody should be misled to violate the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances Control Act and any other legislation on drugs control. These laws remain in place and are going to be observed," the CS wrned.

He urged the youth to shun politicians who are out to use them to cause chaos.

"I urge the youth to be peace ambassadors during this election period and avoid being used by politicians as agents of violence," said Matiang'i. 

He at the same time urged county governments to step up the fight against drug abuse by putting up treatment and rehabilitation centres and commended counties of Bomet, Kisii, Kwale, Mombasa, Nyeri, Kisumu, Kakamega, Taita Taveta, Nakuru and Lamu for establishing county-based treatment and rehabilitation centres.

He lauded Nacada for rolling out programmes to address drug abuse.

He cited the operationalisation of the Sh1.5 billion Miritini Drug Rehabilitation Centre as a major achievement by his ministry.

Nacada Chief Executive Victor Okioma said drug abuse is a serious security threat globally.

"This is a fight that requires a multi-dimensional approach," said Okioma.

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