IN a TV debate in 2019 the Kenyan Rastafarian pictured above argued that sugar and salt were both more addictive and harmful than cannabis, and he urged the government to allow its use for ‘sacramental’ and medical use.
Rastafari have been pushing for the acceptance of the ‘holy herb’ for years in Kenya but upped the ante this week by petitioning the Kenyan high court for a change in the law, claiming that smoking cannabis is part of their religious practice.
Ras Lorjoron, Chairman of the Rastafarian Society of Kenya, told journalists Monday (May 17) outside the court:
We Rastafari, who have been stigmatised and misunderstood, we have come here to say in agreement with the United Nations that the use of cannabis for cultural, spiritual and medicinal should be allowed for people who (have) been using it for many years.
Last December, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to reclassify cannabis, taking it off the strict Schedule IV list that includes dangerous and highly addictive drugs such as heroin. But the move, which the US, supported, was strongly opposed by Russia which called cannabis:
The most abused drug globally.
Which is pure bullshit. Alcohol tops the list, with cannabis holding 8th place.
Many parts of the world have come to debate and allow the use for spiritual, health and cultural purpose.
Smoking marijuana, say followers of the Rastafarian movement, is their way of connecting with their God, Jah. The “holy herb,” they maintain, heightens their feeling of community and helps them reach a spiritual realm.
According to Lorjoron, the Rastafarians in Kenya are frequent targets of arrest by the police and persecution for the spiritual use of cannabis, especially for sacramental purposes. Many of them end up growing the plant secretly in forests, home compounds or pots inside their homes.
We urge you to help remove the stigma around cannabis. We want the world to no longer see it as a narcotic, but a medical plant.
The petition claims that the existing law is a violation of Rastafarian beliefs.
The origins of Rastafarianism can be traced to the island nation of Jamaica in the Caribbean, but it gained momentum in 1930, when Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa came to power, and some in the movement came to believe Selassie was an incarnation of God.
His coronation triggered an exodus to Ethiopia from the Caribbean. Followers of the faith are currently found in most countries in Africa.
The numbers are small in Kenya, where 83 percent are Christians and 10 percent are Muslims, according to a 2013 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics study.
Representatives of the movement made their petition at the same court where, in 2019, a judge declared their movement a religion.
Opposition to a change of the law was voiced by Roman Catholic Bishop Wilybard Lagho, above, who heads the Diocese of Malindi:
We have a liberal constitution that allows freedom of religion, but I am not sure if they qualify to be a religion. I think it’s more of a philosophical question more than a legal one, whether any group can rise up and use a drug as a holy herb.
Another fool, Omollo Ouko, an Apostle of Jesus priest in the Archdiocese of Kisumu in western Kenya, chimed in:
It would be a big blunder to legalise it, given that millions of Kenyan youth who are unemployed. The stressed youth would smoke to find solace and it would be total mess.
And Abdallah Kheri, a religious scholar who chairs the Islamic Research and Education Trust, said anything that harms the body is forbidden in Islam.
Bhang [cannabis] affects the people’s well-being, so it’s forbidden. We are still struggling with drug abuses in the country, and if it’s legalised we’ll keep losing generations.