SECTIONS

Prof George Wajackoyah right on list of countries that have legalised medical bhang

 

Rolls of bhang stuffed in a sack were seized by police in Webuye town. [Juliet Omelo, Standard]

 

Growing bhang for medicinal purposes is top agenda for Roots Party presidential aspirant Prof George Wajackoyah if he wins the August elections. 

Wajackoyah has been using examples from other countries to convince voters that marijuana, which is currently illegal in Kenya, will help unlock economic activities.

“Israel has not abandoned Bhang, they have legalised and it is being used everywhere,” he said.

According to him, other countries like Morocco, Uganda, South Africa, America and Canada had legalised bhang and Kenya should not be an exception.

His list has been growing as he continues to woo voters ahead of the August 9 elections.

The Standard’s Checkpoint followed up to establish whether the said countries had legalised bhang as Prof Wajackoyah claimed.

Israel and US

In Israel, bhang is allowed for specified medical usage and is illegal but partially decriminalized when it comes to personal use. Possession of 15 grams or less is generally not enforced by the authorities.

Citizens caught using bhang in public for the first and second times cannot be arrested if they have no previous record of cannabis use, but may face fines which are used to support education and rehabilitation programs.

In the US, the use of bhang for medicinal purposes is legal in many states including Washington.

Washington state in 2012 also decriminalized possession of up to 28.4 grams of bhang even though smoking it in public will remain illegal.

Africa following suit

The wave of legalising bhang has been catching up in Africa with Lesotho in 2017 becoming the first country on the continent to allow commercial cultivation for medical and scientific purposes.

Zimbabwe followed in 2018 by legalising marijuana for medical and scientific purposes. Those wishing to grow the crop have to apply for licensing.

While some African countries that allow the cultivation of bhang also authorise consumption for medical purposes, Uganda and Rwanda are currently growing the plant strictly for exports. 

Uganda for instance enacted stringent laws to curb the use of bhang even as it commercialised of the product and got seeds from Germany and Canada.

In Morocco in early 2021 passed the law allowing the therapeutic use of bhang meaning it can only be used in medicine, cosmetics and r industrial purposes.

Rwanda followed suit during the same year by allowing licensed dealers to produce and process medical marijuana.

Work in progress

In South Africa, the government is still pursuing plans to turn marijuana into a viable business and has planned to sign the Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill into law within the 2022/2023 financial year.

Examples from the continent and beyond continue to elicit discourse over whether Kenya should follow suit and Prof Wajackoyah wants this to be a reality if he wins the presidential elections.

Verdict: The Standard’s Checkpoint concludes that Prof George Wajackoya’s examples of countries that have legalised bhang for export and medical use are TRUE.