We need weed for worship: Kenyan rastafarians in court to legalize marijuana

By Sheila Mutua On Mon, 17 May, 2021 13:38 | 2 mins read
We need marijuana
The Society of Kenyan Rastafarians at Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi on Monday, May 17: PHOTO/courtesy.

The Rastafari Society of Kenya and their leader Prophet Mwendwa Wambua alias Ras Prophet have moved to court seeking orders to legalize marijuana.

Represented by lawyer Shadrack Wambui, the society moved to court on Monday, May 17 seeking to suspend the act which involves the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the members of the Rastafari society for their spiritual and private growth and use of cannabis in their private homes or designated places of worship. 

“That pending the hearing and determination of this application, this Honourable Court be and is hereby pleased to issue a conservatory order 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 1st Petitioner/1st Applicant for their spiritual and private growth and use of cannabis in their private homes or designated places of worship to with Rasta Tabernacles and Mansions” read the application  

They also want the constitutional court to certify that their petition raises substantial questions of constitutional law, and forthwith refer the case to her Ladyship the Honourable Chief Justice for appointment of a bench of an uneven number of judges being not less than three judges of the High Court, pursuant to article 165(4) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 to hear the matter.

The petitioners further claim, in the application, that the Rastafari Faith requires the spiritual growing and use of cannabis sativa and by whichever name referred, which is used as a sacrament and for the connection of Rasta and his creator.

“That the use of cannabis especially amongst the members of the 1st Petitioner and so is any other person professing the Rastafari faith is outlawed by Section 3 (1), (2), (a) Of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act no 4 of 1994, Laws of Kenya thus criminalizing the Rastafarian spiritual use of cannabis yet the manifestation of their religion enjoys constitutional protection” said their lawyer

They have given grounds of their application that the insensitivity and unconstitutionality of the impugned section is further demonstrated by its intolerance to the private use of cannabis by persons professing the Rastafari faith in their houses and in their designated places of worship/tabernacles and or rasta mansions.

They claim that the police continue to harass, intimidate, arrest and cause the prosecution, persecution and even imprisonment of the members of the Rastafarian society for privately growing and using cannabis for spiritual purposes and for the sole purpose of connecting with the Almighty Creator.

They say their members are forced to live in fear as a minority religious group in Kenya since the current legislative framework is inimical to their religious practices as it fails to reasonably accommodate the Rastafari use of marijuana as a manifestation of their faith and for their connectedness with the Almighty Creator.

“That the impugned law which was enacted in the year 1994 is hostile and intolerant to persons professing the Rastafari faith yet we are in a new constitutional framework following the promulgation of the constitution of Kenya 2010 that is progressive and accommodative to diversity and is protective of the marginalized group who include members of the 1st petitioner and the 2nd Petitioner/Applicants” read the application.

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