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Rastafarians move to court to seek legalisation of bhang consumption

The Chairperson of the Rastafarian association in Kenya Ras Lojiron address the press at Milimani law courts after they filed a petition to decriminalise the use of marijuana. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The Rastafari Society of Kenya (RSK) has filed a case in court seeking to lift the law criminalising the use of marijuana.

In the case, filed before High Court, they argue that the law is unconstitutional for banning the private use of cannabis by persons professing the Rastafari faith.

The legal minds are advocating for the state to let the Rastafarians use cannabis in their houses and places of worship; which the law says is illegal.

Chairperson of the Rastafarian Association in Kenya Ras Lojiron (second from right) with a section of the association members outside Milimani court on Monday, May 17. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The Rastafarian lawyers Shadrack Wambui and Alexander Mwendwa argue that cannabis is a 'sacrament'  used to connect a Rasta believer to their 'creator'.

“Cannabis can be spiritually referred to as bhang, marijuana, holy herb, kushungpeng, tire, ndom, vela, gode and kindukulu,” they added.

The Rastafarians want the court to quash section 3(2) (a) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act. [Courtesy.]

They said marijuana is used by adherents of the faith for medicinal, culinary and ceremonial purposes as evinced in their Holy Book called ‘Holy Piby’.

According to the lawyers representing the Rastafarians, the verse which allows them to smoke marijuana is referred to as ‘Nebra Negas (Glory of Kings) or through ‘reasoning’ which involves the use of cannabis in their tabernacles.

The plaintiff wants the court to quash section 3(2) (a) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act.

The section states that any person guilty of an offence in respect of cannabis, where the person satisfies the court that the cannabis was intended solely for his own consumption, to imprisonment for ten years and in every other case to imprisonment for twenty years.