John Mututho, the former chairman of the anti-drug abuse agency Nacada, has recommended amnesty for people jailed for smoking bhang. Mr Mututho said bhang smokers are adding to congestion at prisons and should be treated as petty offenders instead of being classified as hardcore criminals. In an interview with Nation.co.ke, Mr Mututho said it was improper for the government to jail a bhang smoker for three years for being in possession of one role of the narcotic. He said with proper planning and use of resources, such offenders could be used in agriculture production systems to boost food supplies.
His appeal for amnesty follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order in October last year to release petty offenders to decongest prisons and reduce government spending on them. Mr Mututho, who has declared his interest in vying for the Nakuru governor’s seat, said the government is spending billions of shillings annually to maintain the smokers instead of using the money on development projects. He suggested that the government should formulate stiff penalties that would deter those cultivating bhang, saying they are the main stumbling block to the fight against alcohol and drug abuse in the country.
“Those found growing cannabis sativa (bhang) should be jailed for life and by doing that we shall eliminate bhang smoking amongst our youths,” said Mr Mututho. However, he said he was totally opposed to those calling for the legalisation of bhang, saying it can only be done under strict rules for medicinal and industrial use only. “Cannabis sativa should not be allowed to be grown by every Tom, Dick and Harry, otherwise it will be misused by misguided and greedy Kenyans who want to make quick money,” he said. He said the government should step up its fight against drugs by using its intelligence machinery to flush out suspected and well-known drug barons from their hideouts.