The Rastafarian community in Kenya has filed a petition at the Milimani Law Courts seeking to have marijuana legalized.
In the petition, they argue that followers/believers of the Rastafari faith use bhang or cannabis by either smoking, drinking, eating, bathing and/or burning of incense for spiritual, medicinal, culinary and ceremonial purposes as sacrament to manifest their faith.
They also claim that Rastafarians are a marginalized group that is apolitical and thus politically powerless, and that they are frequently subjected to prejudice, intimidation, unwarranted searches of their homes, and prosecutions because of their spiritual use of cannabis in their private homes or designated places of worship, despite the fact that the use of herb or cannabis is grounded in biblical redemption and deliverance.
“It is the Petitioner’s contention that the impugned section clearly show differential treatment on the basis of Religion and privacy perpetuates the culture, stigma and discrimination against the 1st petitioners’ followers through the continued use of archaic laws that violate the rights of the 1st petitioners’ members,” reads the court documents.
The Rastafaris also want the court to suspend the arrest or prosecution of members who use cannabis for their spiritual and private growth.
They accuse the Respondents of failing to ensure the Petitioner’s equality before the law of people who practice Rastafari beliefs and ideologies in their private lives, as required by international human rights law.
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