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Rastafarian Society seeks to legalize the use of ‘spiritual’ marijuana

Rastafarian Society seeks to legalize the use of ‘spiritual’ marijuana

Rastafarian Society seeks to legalize the use of ‘spiritual’ marijuana 

The Rastafarian Society of Kenya has filed a petition to decriminalize

the use of cannabis or bhang for ‘spiritual’ purposes.

They argue that followers and believers of the Rastafari faith use

cannabis by smoking, drinking, bathing or burning incense for spiritual,

medical, culinary and ceremonial purposes as a

sacrament to manifest their faith.

Rastafarian Society seeks to legalize the use of ‘spiritual’ marijuana
Rastafarian Society seeks to legalize the use of ‘spiritual’ marijuana

In their petition, they also argue that Rastafarians are apolitical and

therefore have no political power. They say they are subject to prejudices

such as intimidation and searches on their

homes because of their use of cannabis.

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“It is the Petitioner’s contention that the impugned section clearly

show differential treatment on the basis of Religion and privacy

perpetuates the culture, stigma and discrimination against the

1st petitioners’ followers through the continued use of archaic

laws that violate the rights of the 1st petitioners’

members,” the court document reads.

Lawyers Shadrack Wambui and Alexander Mwendwa said that

cannabis was a “sacrament” connecting believers to their “creator”.

They said authorities did not ensure the group’s religious rights

were respected and infringed in a 2019 high court ruling that

said Rastafarians were a religious group and should be treated as one.

“This, therefore, makes it criminal for rastas to assemble in prayer

and partake the herb as a sacrament,” the lawyers argued.

They also want the court to suspend the arrest or prosecution of

members who use cannabis for their spiritual and private growth.

Cannabis is considered a narcotic in Kenya and its cultivation,

possession and use are a criminal offence under the Penal Code.

Those convicted can be jailed for 10-20 years.

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