Rastafari Society of Kenya wants court to suspend law criminalising marijuana


The Ras Tafari Society of Kenya has moved to court seeking temporary suspension of the implementation of section 3 (1), (2), (a) of the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (Control) Act No.  4 OF 1994, Laws of Kenya. 

The RSK together with Mwendwa Wambua alias ras prophet also want the High Court to certify the petition which raises substantial questions of constitutional law and forthwith refer the case to the Chief Justice for appointment of a bench of an uneven number of judges being not less than three judges of the High Court.

Through lawyer Shadrack Wambui, the petitioners argue that the insensitivity and unconstitutionality of the impugned section is demonstrated by its intolerance to the private use of cannabis by persons professing the Rastafari faith in their houses and in their designated places of worship or tabernacles and/or rasta mansions.

According to them, this section involves the arrest, prosecution and  conviction of its members.

“The members of Ras Tafari Society of Kenya(RSK) are hitherto 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 and for their connectedness with the Almighty Creator,” argues the petitioners.

They aver that their members profess the Rastafari Faith that requires the spiritual growing and use of cannabis sativa, marijuana, bhang, ndom, vela, kushungpeng and by whichever name referred, which is used as a sacrament and for the connection of Rasta and his creator.

However, the use of cannabis especially amongst the members of RSK) and so is any other person professing the Rastafari faith is outlawed by dint of the said section thus criminalizing the rastas spiritual use of cannabis yet the manifestation of their religion enjoys constitutional protection.

The society claims that the police continue to harass, intimidate, arrest and cause the prosecution, persecution and even imprison its members for privately growing and using cannabis for spiritual purposes and for the sole purpose of connecting with the Almighty Creator.

They further argue that the impugned law which was enacted in the year 1994 is hostile and intolerant to persons professing the Rastafari faith yet we are in a new constitutional framework following the promulgation of the constitution of Kenya 2010 that is progressive and accommodative of diversity and protective of the marginalized group who include members of the Ras Tafari Society of Kenya(RSK) and Mwendwa Wambua alias ras prophet.