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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Legalise bhang to free Kenyans from 50 years of colonial oppression - Ogot

Gwada Ogot ahead of his appearance before the Senate on Thursday, April 6, 2017, following his petition for decriminalisation of bhang. /GIDEON KETER
Gwada Ogot ahead of his appearance before the Senate on Thursday, April 6, 2017, following his petition for decriminalisation of bhang. /GIDEON KETER

The man who wants bhang legalised in Kenya says he wants to undo more than 50 years of colonial injustice.

Gwada Ogot, a researcher and political analyst, said bhang had always been consumed in the country until colonialists brought laws to make it illegal.

"It is medicine at home, I asked elderly people who said it was always used until the colonialists came and illegalised it."

"We are reinstating the freedom. If we see value in it that they don't see, it doesn't mean we have to go their way," he said on Monday.

Kenya grows the highly sought after landrace variety, a purebred sativa known for speedy effects.

Smugglers routinely bring its seeds to the Netherlands and the USA, where a handful of commercial strains have been developed.

Ogot, who hails from Siaya, says the medicinal and industrial uses of the plant, upon its legalisation, will be of 'great social and economic gains'.

He appeared before the Senate committee on health last week to argue his case.

More than 1,400 Kenyans signed a petition seeking the legalisation of bhang, less than 48 hours after Ogot first presented his case.

"In Dholuo, its called Yath - medicine. I will betray my parentage if I aligned myself to a colonial law that was used to oppress me," he said on Kiss 100.

If his wish is granted, bhang will be deleted from among banned drugs as in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1994.

In 2009, a UNODC survey indicated that the lifetime prevalence rate of cannabis use in Kenya was 10.6% among all ages.

Higher rates of use were reported among urban dwellers (11%) than in rural areas (4%). The current prevalence was estimated at 5.3% across all ages.

The global annual prevalence rate for cannabis use is estimated at between 2.6% and 5%, indicating that Kenya sits close to the top of the global average.

In supporting his proposals, Ogot argued that as at December last year, several US states and at least 25 countries had decriminalised the use of cannabis.

He further points out that: "The crime and controversy around marijuana emanate from its prohibition and not from the plant itself, its uses or users."

A compound in marijuana known as cannabidiol (CBD) has been found by scientists as fit for treatment of schizophrenia.

Read: Petition to legalise marijuana approaches 1,500 signatures

[VIDEO] Bhang is God's plant, can cure 6,000 diseases, petitioner tells senators


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