Dagoretti South lawmaker John Kiarie is vouching for a law legalizing the industrial and medicinal use of marijuana.
Kiarie made the call during the debate on the Crops Bill, 2019 at the National Assembly saying the country can no longer be blind to its economic benefits.
According to the lawmaker, there was a need to review the country’s agriculture concept to net into the benefits of the non-conventional crops.
“I feel it is time we also consider legalizing marijuana in this country Mr. Speaker. I know marijuana is pest-resistant. It is time we stopped being cowards as a house and start looking at crops that will be of benefit to this country,” he said.
He said that everyone understands the benefits in the marijuana production value chain, for medicinal and industrial use.
Kiarie said legalizing marijuana should not be misconstrued as calling for its recreational use.
“This is for us to open our minds so that we reap from the benefits of a crop that is not affected by pests and diseases and is also drought resistant,” the MP added.
He gave an example of the industrial use of industrial hemp which is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for industrial use and can be used to make a wide range of products.
“This is a discussion that we will open as we have a holistic look at how we tackle agriculture.”
He added that there was the need to rethink the country’s agriculture sector holistically to get maximum benefit in crops such as bixa, and marijuana.
Bixa crop, locally known as ‘mrangi’ is one of world’s most important natural colourant. It makes for about 70 per cent of world’s natural dyes. There are two bixa seasons in a year and crop is a shrub that grows to between two and three metres high and can germinate from seeds or cuttings.
The bill sponsored by Matuga MP Kassim Tandaza Sawa seeks to include Achiote – known in the Coast as ‘mrangi’ as a cash crop.
The legislature joins the growing chorus pushing for the legalisation of marijuana, popularly known as weed.
Cannabis Sativa is the world’s most popular drug and is the highest value therapeutic crop known at the moment, despite being illegal in many parts of the world, including Kenya.
He joins, popular band Sauti Sol and outspoken Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina who has been campaigning for the legalisation of marijuana in Kenya.
In 2018, former Kibra Member of Parliament Ken Okoth wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi to facilitate him in preparing a Bill, the Marijuana Control Bill, which sought to decriminalise the growth and use of the stimulant.
Marijuana is considered a narcotic in Kenya and its cultivation, possession and use are a criminal offence under the Penal Code.
One can be jailed for between 10 and 20 years if convicted even as the drug is widely used or abused by many people locally.
Scientists have hailed the drug’s medicinal value with research showing that it is effective in fighting chronic pain, some cancers, glaucoma, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and depression among others.
The late Okoth, who died of cancer, in his draft Bill to parliament, sought to have a regulation for the growth and safe use of the stimulant, including the registration of growers, producers, manufacturers and users.
The late MP also wanted research and policy development on growth and use of marijuana and help for medical, industrial, textile and recreational purposes “with a focus on preservation of intellectual property rights for Kenyan research and natural heritage, knowledge and our indigenous plant assets.”
Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe are some of the African countries that have relaxed rules on the drug’s medicinal and recreational use.