• In Kenya, cannabis remains the drug of choice amongst narcotic users.

• Data from a national survey conducted in 2017 showed that at least one percent of the country’s population aged between 15-65 years are current users of cannabis.

in a file photo
NACADA CEO Victor Okioma in a file photo
Image: The-Star

The national anti-drug agency says trade in bhang (cannabis sativa) remains illegal in Kenya.

The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) said in a statement recreational and commercial trade of bhang is prohibited.

The statement cited the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act and comes at a time when Roots Party presidential candidate George Wajackoyah is pushing for the use of narcotics for commercial purposes if he is elected the president.

He has been championing the legalization of narcotics for recreational and commercial use.

In his manifesto launched on Thursday, Prof Wajackoyah claimed growing bhang for export would generate revenue that would be enough to pay external debts.

Nacada CEO Victor Okioma noted that some of the statements made in favour of legalisation are misleading as they are intended to elicit excitement amongst the people, especially the youth.

“Let be known that the law is still in force and that anyone contravening this law i.e being in possession or trading in cannabis will be apprehended,” said Okioma.

In Kenya, cannabis remains the drug of choice amongst narcotic users.

Data from a national survey conducted in 2017 showed that at least one per cent of the country’s population aged between 15-65 years are current users of cannabis.

Cannabis has also permeated our institutions of learning with current data showing that 7.5 per cent of high school students have ever used cannabis and 1.2 per cent amongst primary school pupils.

Similarly, another survey conducted in 2019 to assess emerging trends in the abuse of drugs and substances of abuse showed overwhelming evidence of the abuse of cannabis in the form of cookies, candies and other forms of confectioneries.

Further, reports on the increasing rate of illicit trafficking of cannabis and the resultant high number of seizures and arrests are of great concern.

Kenya last year rejected the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations on the use of cannabis in recognition of its abuse and potential health risks posed.

"The rejection of the seven recommendations is a breakthrough in the global fight against drug abuse as it sent a strong message to the world that cannabis is, and remains a harmful substance and should be handled with utmost care and precaution," said Okioma.

The WHO submitted eight proposals including, the recommendation to delete extracts and tinctures of Cannabis from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention and a recommendation to remove from international control products containing 0.2 per cent of Delta 8 THC.

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