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Marijuana Legalization in Kenya

Cannabis commonly known as marijuana, weed, blunt, or pot is a drug that is commonly used all over the world. The drug is mostly smoked, it can as well be eaten, vaporized or brewed. Although, it has been speculated to cause side effects, it’s use has been on the rise and even leading to its legalization in some countries.

Cannabis is said to have originated in Asia around the present day Mongolia and Siberia. Fibers from the hemp plant, the plant that produces marijuana, were used to weave clothes and shoes as well as to make bowstrings which were used during war. The plant was also used to manufacture paper. The realization that cannabis had a medicinal value led to its widespread use in the practice of medicine to heal wounds.

The cultivation of marijuana spread from Asia to India, Europe, America and eventually the rest of the world. Due to its medicinal value, it was easily available in most countries. However, by late 1930s, cannabis was widely prohibited following the International Opium Convention in 1925.

To this day, most of the general population believe that marijuana was prohibited due to some scientific evidence proving that marijuana was harmful to the human body. The truth is anterior motives of power play led to prohibition of marijuana.

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A series of events in America early 1900 led to the prohibition of marijuana. The influx of Mexicans into America following the Mexican revolution, the association of Jazz to the Negro and failure of alcohol prohibition in the US culminated to the prohibition of marijuana.

Harry Anslinger, the man who was put in charge of Department of Prohibition in Washington in 1929 put the final nail in the marijuana prohibition coffin. Following the failure of alcohol prohibition, Harry was left with a department with nothing much to do. He had to find something to justify the expenditure of taxpayers money to run his department. Unfortunately, he focused on prohibition of marijuana to redeem himself and make his department relevant.

Painting a horrific picture of marijuana users behavior, I quote ” First, you will fall into a delirious rage. Then you will be gripped by dreams… of an erotic character. Then you will lose the power of connected thought. Finally, you will reach the inevitable end-point: Insanity.” scared America to a point of banning marijuana usage. The ban then spread to other countries.In reality, marijuana usage makes most of the users passive rather than hysterical.

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Over time with the realization of the truth, the possession and use of marijuana was decriminalized in some states. The use of marijuana for recreational activities became widespread in the western world due to the rise and influence of counterculture in the 1960s. In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the sale, cultivation and distribution of cannabis. Marijuana is also legal in the Netherlands and the United States of Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington while the Czech republic, Canada and Israel have legalized the medicinal use of Cannabis.

With marijuana being banned in most countries, the business of selling and distributing marijuana is illegal. Considering that the marijuana dealers are not subject to government taxes and the limited supply of the drug, returns of the illegal business are most probably very high.

Kenya remains to be one country where marijuana is still illegal. However, recent talks concerning the legalization of marijuana have sparked a lot debate among the people concerned.In Kenya, the youth in general are the major users of marijuana. A recent survey on twitter showed that 82% of the population use marijuana, 67% would want it to be legalized while 37% think that marijuana does not have any side effects. However, marijuana is speculated to have some side effects. Depending on quantity, quality and method of consumption, it can cause euphoria, paranoia, hallucinations, increased heart rate, low coordination among others. Most of the stated effects are short term and we are yet to get any scientific data on long term effects of marijuana usage.

As the debate as to whether marijuana should be legalized or not in Kenya, the pro’s and the con’s of using marijuana should be clearly weighed before making the decision. From the above poll statistics and substantial scientific data, the general Kenya population seem to be in favor of marijuana legalization.

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Posted by Cheryl Kahingo