Rastafari Society of Kenya files petition seeking to legalize Marijuana

The Rastafari Society of Kenya has filed a petition challenging the validity of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act No. 4 Of 1994 that prohibits use of marijuana.

The Society and their Spokesperson Mwendwa Wambua alias RAS PROPHET want members of the society exempted from criminal liability for their growth and use of cannabis as a sacrament during worship in their private houses and/or designated places of worship to wit, rasta tabernacles and mansions.

They have now sought conservatory orders temporarily suspending the implementation of SECTION 3 (1), (2), (a) OF THE NARCOTIC DRUGS AND PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCES (CONTROL) ACT NO. 4 OF 1994, LAWS OF KENYA as far as it involves the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the members of the Society for their spiritual and private growth and use of cannabis in their private homes or designated places of worship.

“The Petitioners avers that followers/believers of the Rastafari faith use bhang or cannabis by either smoking, drinking, eating, bathing and/or burning of incense for spiritual, medicinal, culinary and ceremonial purposes as sacrament as the ultimate of manifesting their religion as a Rastafari to meditate and or reason with others in order to connect with their God,” They said.

The Society argues that the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act No. 4 Of 1994 is discriminatory in how it creates criminal law exceptions for possession of narcotics and in particular cannabis while leaving out use of Cannabis as a sacramental tool by people of Rastafari faith as a way of manifesting their religion and beliefs like other Religions do.

“Members of the 1st Petitioner (Rastafari Society of Kenya) use cannabis to connect with their creator either individually in what is known as ‘meditation’ which involves the smoking, eating, drinking, bathing or burning of incense at the privacy of their homes and ‘reasoning’ which involves the use of marijuana amongst the Rastafari in association with others in their tabernacles or designated places of worship to connect with God,” The Society said.

The two petitioners further argue that the World Health Organisation has recently removed Cannabis from its list of dangerous drugs under schedule IV (4) of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics.

They submit that the Act is unconstitutional as it discriminates the members of the 1st Petitioner/the petitioners herein on the basis of religion by criminalizing their spiritual growth and use of cannabis and treating them different from other mainstream religions.

“Members of the 1st Petitioner and so is the 2nd Petitioner are a people at a cross road and thus are forced to live in fear for he has to choose between being stigmatized a criminal for using cannabis which is prohibited by the laws of Kenya or choose to abandon his vow and commitment to live in service of God his creator through worship that is characterized by the spiritual use of cannabis,” They said.

They also want an order “directing the Attorney General to place before the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate, the Attorney-General, and the Kenya Law Reform Commission, attended with a signal of the utmost urgency, for any necessary amendments, formulation and enactment of statute law, to give effect to the right to manifest religious beliefs of people of Rastafari faith in accordance with article 27,28,31,32 and 36 of the Constitution.”



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