Medical marijuana reform is quickly spreading to countries on every continent, and now, the wind of change has reached the Republic of Kenya.
The Kenyan Senate has been petitioned by Gwada Ogot, a writer and political analyst, to decriminalize marijuana for personal use and legalize it for medical and industrial purposes. The Senate has tasked the Committee on Health for the African nation to review and respond within 60 days.
If the petition is successful, cannabis, or Bhang as it is called in Kenya, will be removed from the List of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1994. Further to the proposed rescheduling, the petition asks that anyone currently serving jail terms for offenses related to marijuana be set free.
The proposal also suggests that a Cannabis Sativa Board of Kenya be established to oversee the production and distribution of marijuana for medicinal use.
During the debate process, Ogot will be asked to speak with members of parliament to review his position, in which he stated that the problem is not the plant itself but the law that criminalizes it.
The petition has also created some political controversy in Kenya; Senator Kennedy Mong’are surprised his fellow Senators when he admitted to using cannabis in his younger days.
Senator Mong’are, who is also a presidential hopeful, shared his cannabis experience while offering support of the petition. “Strict regulations don’t help. It is abused because of laws criminalizing it. The problem with Kenyans is living in denial,” he said.
It appears the petition is creating much debate, with Senators on both sides making passionate arguments for and against marijuana reform. Media coverage within Africa clearly cites the United States as a prime example of why marijuana should be decriminalized and cultivated for medical use.
As the 60-day deadline approaches, Kenyans are watching with anticipation to see if cannabis reform will not just be something they read about in other countries, it will be their reality as well.
Photo courtesy of Ninara