The Senate has been divided over a proposal seeking to decriminalize cannabis (bhang)and setting free criminals who were jailed for possession or use of the drug.
The petition which was presented to the house by speaker Kenneth Lusaka has so far caused a rift between Senators especially in the opposition who have sharply taken sides over the issue despite coming from the same coalition.
The proposal was first introduced formally in February by Mr. Sammy Gwada Ogot a researcher, writer and political analyst with an intention of legalizing bhang in Kenya arguing that it had numerous medicinal value.
In his proposal, he wants a Cannabis Sativa Board of Kenya established to oversee the sector saying the the problem is not the plant but the law.
Some of the senators argued that the contents of the proposal were out of the law claiming some that they should not even discuss the issue as it is ‘something that is illegal.’
They also said that bhang was intoxicating and and contributed to anti-social behavior.
“It will be wrong for the house to entertain the debate because this substance has destroyed young people,”said Kisii Senator Prof Sam Ongeri.
His sentiments were echoed by Bungoma Senator who said the “house should not waste time discussing something illegal,” while Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr had earlier argued that such a piece of legislation would not be good for the country.
“That is totally unacceptable. I vehemently oppose it. Bhang has medicinal value but we have abused its values,” he had said adding that there is no guarantee that the law enforcement agents will ensure compliance.
However, Narok’s Ole kina Ledama, George Kaniri of Vihiga,Fred Outa of Kisumu, Stewart Madzayo of Kilifi said that Mr Ogot should be given an opportunity to present his case.
Ole Kina averred that the petition was worth investigating as some studies have shown that bhang can be used as a pain killer.
He added that experts should be involved in the investigation in order to prove once and for all that marijuana is medicinal so that there could be no reason for the government not to adopt it.
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