Members of the Rastafari Society in Kenya want the government of Kenya to allow them to smoke bhang.
Through a petition at the High Court, the Rastafari want to be allowed to use marijuana for religious, medicinal, ceremonial and as food as indicated in their bible ‘Holy Piby’, by either smoking, drinking, eating, bathing and/or burning as incense.
Through their lawyers Shadrack Wambui and Alexander Mwendwa, the Rastafari claim that they use marijuana as a link to their most high creator.
They want section 3(2) (a) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act that allows courts to convict up to 10 years, an individual found guilty of being in possession of marijuana for personal use, to be scrapped off.
They have said that it is wrong for the Act to criminalize the spiritual act of using marijuana which they use for spiritual growth, and have claimed this strips them of their dignity contrary to Article 27(4), and 28, of the Constitution.
The Rastafari maintain that this section clearly shows the discriminatory treatment against them on grounds of their religion and privacy leading to stigma.
The petition also states that the law goes against their right to associate with others for spiritual purposes as guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
The cultivation, possession, use and transportation is against the Law in Kenya and one is liable to up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of these crimes.
But some African countries have legalised the use of marijuana for specific purposes, with the highest production of cannabis reported to take place in the continent, this according to a 2005 report by the UN.
In the report, Africa reported 38,200,000 users of the drug aged between 15 to 64 and translating to 7.7% of the population.