Kenya is a rapidly growing country with a population that has increased over 500% since 1960. With that growing population has come a growing user base for cannabis. According to Kenya’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, anyone found in possession of any narcotic drug will be charged with an offense entailing ten years imprisonment. Weed isn’t legal in Kenya, and remains classed as a narcotic. Due to the geographical location of Kenya, policing the utilization and possession of cannabis has proved relatively futile.
Nevertheless, some Kenyan celebrities have shared their thoughts on marijuana legalization, with the majority showing support. In an article by The Standard, Bahati, a Kenyan gospel artist didn’t shy away from supporting cannabis legalization.
“It is a God-given plant that grows naturally. I don’t use it, but I have no problem with those that use it meaningfully,” he reveals.
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Marijuana Laws in Kenya
Possession of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance will be charged with an offense. For cannabis, the potential imprisonment time is:
- 10 years if the possession is proven to be for their consumption only
- 20 years for any other situation
Unsurprisingly, the selling of cannabis is highly prohibited, and this can warrant life in prison. Add onto this the potential fine of 1 million shillings (approx. $9,300 US at time of writing), or three times the market value of the drugs, whichever is greater.
The cultivation of cannabis is against the law in Kenya. The fine for cultivating cannabis is 250,000 Kenyan shillings ($2,307 US at time of writing), or up to three times the street value of the drugs. If found to be cultivating, the land on which cannabis (or other drugs) is grown could be taken from the owner and handed back to the Government.
Cannabis in Ethiopia
CBD is also considered an illegal drug in Kenya, which tourists visiting the country should be aware of. Even if you have a prescription, this does not grant you the legal right to bring CBD into the country.
What’s Next for Weed in Kenya
The general attitude of Kenyans on cannabis use is divided, with some showing support and others being cautious about the potential health risks. Today, cannabis is being used mainly by teens and young adults. Since most Kenyans regard cannabis as a cultural taboo, users talk in slang and jargon.
That’s why the code words used today were initiated, like ngwai, godey, kush, and ndom. Going by high-profile petitions, including Ken Okoth’s proposed marijuana bill, there’s little question that changes are ongoing and underway. Soon, the Kenyan government may decriminalize cannabis thanks to popular opinion and foreign influence. As of May 2021 however, this has not happened yet and the legal status of weed in Kenya remains unchanged.