The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has warned against assumptions that marijuana has been legalised in the country after the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs removed it from the list of the most dangerous drugs.
NACADA CEO Victor Okioma said Kenya’s position in recognition of cannabis potential for abuse and the obvious health risks as well as the heightened level of abuse both globally and nationally remains.
But in a press statement, Okioma said Kenya did not support any of the recommendations and instead advocated for the retention of cannabis plant and cannabis resin in both Schedule 1 and IV of the 1961 Convention.
“Kenya is at liberty to tighten its controls on cannabis or any other substance despite the global vote to delete cannabis from Schedule IV of the Convention. As such, all is not lost, the leash is still in our hands,” he said.
He said the decision by the UN Commission was based on the argument that having cannabis plant and cannabis resin in both schedules did not limit states’ access to the substance for medical and scientific purposes.
However, Mr Okioma said the Multi-Sectoral Technical Committee that participated in the rescheduling process under his leadership holds that the herb is still harmful and illegal in Kenya.
“The vote to delete cannabis plant and cannabis resin from most dangerous substances is not an endorsement of recreational use of cannabis or recognition that Cannabis is less harmful. It only means that cannabis plant and resin have moved from a stricter schedule,” Okioma said.
“Though the move eases member states’ access to cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, it does not in any way legalise the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.”
Mr Okioma said the herb and its resin are still listed among substances regarded as highly addictive, highly liable for abuse and particularly harmful with little or no therapeutic use.
“The Commission classified it as one of the most dangerous substances and thereby, limiting its access for medical and scientific purposes only. This is because Cannabis still remains listed in Schedule 1 of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,” Okioma noted.
The World Health Organisation had in January 2019 recommended the rescheduling of Cannabis and Cannabis-related substances under the International Drug Control Conventions.