The Rastafari Society of Kenya has filed a petition seeking orders to decriminalize the use of marijuana in the country and allow its use for spiritual purposes among others by Kenyans who profess to the Rastafarian faith.
In the application, the members are seeking the decriminalization of marijuana including: the arrest, prosecution and conviction of its members citing its importance as they champion for its use in their designated places of worship and private homes for spiritual and personal growth.
“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 drug 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 wit Rasta Tabernacles and Mansions” read the application.
The members argue that the use of marijuana is well stipulated and guided by their religion which requires them to grow and use it as a sacrament and as link with their maker.
“There should be more emphasis towards research and allowing Rastafarians to take the forefront of advising the country on how the plant (cannabis) is a solution to many of our problems today. The Rastafarian community have been wrongfully imprisoned and persecuted because of the use of cannabis for spiritual,sacramental use and also as indigenous communities of Kenya we feel it is our right to protect all indigenous seeds which have been there since creation and provide knowledge on how to use it to improve humanity and the environment today.” said Prophet Wambua, chairman Ras Tafari society.
The petitioners further 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
Members of the association have equally accused police of harassing them despite doing what they insist is a requirement in their faith to connect with their maker.
“For them to manifest their faith, it requires them to frequently use marijuana and create the connection between themselves and their creator. As we have received instruction, this does not flow from our current constitution but also from the holy book, the bible. The use goes to the extent of smoking, drinking eating, burning of incense or bathing in marijuana and also going to extent to seek private growth and consumption of cannabis is by law not prohibited as far as the rastafarian society of Kenya is concerned to its members. ” said lawyer Shadrack wambui.
Members say they are forced to live in fear as a minority religious group in Kenya as 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.
“The law that prohibits use of cannabis was enacted in 1994, this is so many years before the promulgation of the new constitution. We hope the courts will breathe life to the private rights of members, right to religion and right to associate together in worship as they take the sacrament, which i the holy herb, cannabis.”