BY DAMA KALAMA
The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug abuse (NACADA) has maintained that cannabis sativa is still an illicit drug in Kenya.
NACADA chief executive officer (CEO) Victor Okiamo distanced the authority from the notion that it voted for legislation of marijuana on December 2, 2020 as false.
“What happened was a vote to remove it from schedule four of the control to another schedule for the simple reason that there is certain cannabis which can be extracted and processed for medical and scientific purposes,” he said.
He added that it has not been removed from controlled drugs, instead it was removed from one schedule to another schedule within the controlled drugs provided by the United Nations convention of 1961 and it is still under the controlled drugs category.
Speaking during a multi-agency meeting ahead of festive seasons, Mr Okiamo said there is a bill in parliament which is going to strengthen penalties for offenses on trafficking and abusing cannabis.
He said it would be a contradiction to say the UN has legalized cannabis and Kenya hasn’t.
“In Kenya cannabis is a controlled substance, it cannot be abused, and if one has to take for medical purposes there is a long elaborate process to go through,” he clarified.
FEAR OF LEGALISING
He stated the fear of legalising cannabis is the diversion into the illicit market as witnessed in the countries that have legalized the drug, something Kenya’s NACADA is not ready to go through.
The CEO observed that if not checked, drug and substance abuse will impede the attainment of Kenya Vision 2030 and the Big four Agenda development blueprints.
NACADA CEO said the country needs a young healthy and productive youthful population for the transformation of this country.
Mr Okiamo observed that multi agency government approach teams will be formed across the country to save the nation vowing support from his agency to contain the drugs and alcohol menace.
The CEO said his team will facilitate relevant stakeholders in carrying out inspection compliance through the multi-agency approach to bring sanity to the uncontrolled sector.
He emphasized on commitment to seal existing loopholes in licensing where unscrupulous traders forge KRA stamps and KEBS quality marks.
The drugs and alcoholic control chief executive reiterated his team will be keeping tabs with innovative ways of drug trafficking as well to nab those who have opened up house bars drinking at home in the presence of children thus recruiting them to alcohol abuse.
Mr Okiamo urged County governments to make follow-ups after licensing since they should not only do it for revenue but for the health of the people.
“Get to know what substance you are licensing otherwise you license poison for people to die especially during the festive season,” he said.
He cited a myriad of challenges in the war against illicit brews to the influx of alcohol and hard drugs into the country through porous borders.
The NACADA CEO observed that many bars don’t have licenses as well as the conversion of bars to wines and spirits, bars in residential areas and one license being used for several businesses.
He called for secure and healthy premises where businesses premises will operate in addition to them being licensed.
“Prescription drugs are becoming a problem. We will work as one government with the pharmacy and poisons board to figure out ways of curtailing members of public purchasing unprescribed over the counter drugs leading to addiction. The drugs and alcohol control agency chief assured members of public support to the fight against drugs and alcohol abuse urging them to report any incidents of breach through the toll-free number 1192.