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It is now legal to smoke bhang

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A top court ruled on Tuesday that private, personal cannabis use was legal in a landmark case that had pitted law enforcement agencies against marijuana advocates and the judiciary.

South Africa’s Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, delivering the Johannesburg-based Constitutional Court’s unanimous verdict, declared the law banning marijuana use in private by adults “is unconstitutional and therefore invalid”.

“It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption,” he said, reading the ruling to cheers from the public gallery.

The court also ordered parliament to draft new laws within 24 months to reflect the order.

Outside pro-cannabis campaigners lit pipes and rolled joints to celebrate the news, filling the air with the distinctive aroma of marijuana.

“I’m happy I won’t be getting any more criminal records for possession,” Ruaan Wilson, 29, told AFP before pausing for a puff.

“Now we can get police to focus on real drugs and thugs,” he added, wearing shorts and dark sunglasses.

A court in Western Cape had ruled in March 2017 that a ban on cannabis use by adults at home was unconstitutional, a move that effectively decriminalised it in the province, which includes Cape Town.

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Objective proof

But the ministers of justice, police, health and trade challenged that finding, arguing that there was “objective proof of the harmful effects of cannabis”.

The ruling will not decriminalise the use of the drug in public nor the offences of supplying or dealing – but cultivation for personal, private use will no longer be illegal for adults.

Previously, possessing, growing or using marijuana for personal use – even in small quantities – exposed users to fines of up to hundreds of dollars as well as jail time, although this latter punishment was rare. Penalties for selling the drug were far higher.

Three cannabis users who had faced prosecution for using the drug argued in the Constitutional Court that the prohibition “intrudes unjustifiably into their private spheres”.

Activists clutching banners reading “Weed are free now” and Rastafari flags gathered outside the court in central Johannesburg.

Other boards read “Free the weed”, and “Legalise weed, end economic depression #weedislife”.

Some activists also called for cannabis to be decriminalised for use in public.

“It’s not enough, we also have privacy in person, as we walk in a public space, therefore we should be allowed to carry cannabis in public,” said Jeremy Acton, leader of the Dagga Party in South Africa which advocates the rights of cannabis users.

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Several of the roughly 100 activists sang struggle-era anti-apartheid songs.

Previous court hearings on the emotive issue have drawn protests by those opposed to legalising cannabis, as well as by those in favour of decriminalisation.

Use of cannabis and medicinal marijuana has gained popularity in some parts of the world to ease suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV and Aids, and other serious conditions.

But opponents fear crime connected to drug abuse and users graduating to harder drugs. They also cite medical research which suggests a link between heavy use of marijuana and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

The country’s Medical Research Council has already launched trials to help guarantee quality, consistency and standards, according to local media.

“We have used cannabis to treat anxiety, colic in children and as an antiseptic in secret for many years,” said Phephsile Maseko of the Traditional Healers Organisation. “Now we will be able to develop the plant even further.”

Coca-Cola recently confirmed it was studying the use of a key ingredient in marijuana to make “wellness beverages”.

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Africa

Kenyans reject Uhuru’s avocado, baby carrots deal with Mauritius

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The news that Mauritius had lifted a ban on Kenyan avocados has not been well received by the Kenyan online community.

Kenyans online have lamented that they are already grappling with a decrease in production of their “dear avocados” and did not want a trade deal involving the produce.

The government of Mauritius lifted a ban on several Kenyan farm produce, including avocados, baby carrots, baby beans and broccoli.

The decision was is part of a trade deal made during bilateral talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his host Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.

President Kenyatta said the lifting of the ban will help improve Kenya’s export and will greatly boost horticultural farmers in the country, especially women who are the majority in the sector.

At the same time, China on Sunday completed an inspection tour by two experts from the Chinese National Plant Protection Organisation who were hosted by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) for eight days as a prerequisite given by the country before it opens its market for Kenyan avocados.

ONLINE UPROAR

But online Kenyans were not happy about the recent deal with Mauritius citing shortages of the prized fruit.

“Why export when local demand and supply is still wanting?” Sarati A. Richard wondered.

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“Ile drought iko huku jamani badala zipelekwe huko Kwanza…. We don’t have an oversupply of the produce in discussion,” Migwi Sam lamented.

“DP told us guys to diversify tukasema maize maize… sasa ona,” Cherotich Carren Kiki wrote.

“This ovacado thing kumbe was true! Maize farmers kwisha,” Buluma Godwin commented.

“Ati avocado? Mkipeleka wapi? Msijaribu,” Kenneth Makau warned.

“We don’t even have enough avocadoes in Kenya to feed the demand in the country,” Wachira Jackson commented.

source:nairobinews

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PHOTOS: Uhuru arrives in Mauritius for four-day State Visit

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday evening arrived in Port Louis, Mauritius for a four-day State Visit.

The plane carrying Mr Kenyatta and his entourage touched down at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport shortly before 7pm local time.

On arrival, the President – who was received by Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth – inspected a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the special mobile force of the Mauritius Police Service followed by a 21-gun salute.

After the arrival ceremonies,  Kenyatta paid a courtesy call on the Acting President of Mauritius Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory at State House, Le Reduit.

His visit to Mauritius is largely aimed at boosting the economic, cultural and social ties between the two nations, according to PSCU.

The forum will be used to showcase trade and investment opportunities in Mauritius and Kenya.

President Kenyatta is accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs) and Prof. George Magoha (Education) among other senior government officials.

PHOTO COURTESY: PSCU

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PHOTOS: Narcotic miraa seized at JKIA

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Detectives at Jomo Kenyatta airport, Nairobi, have intercepted 500 kilogrammes of narcotic dry miraa concealed as tea packets for export to the US, Australia and Austria.

The drugs were hidden in 52 packets, packed as green stevia tea, according to a statement from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

DCI on Tuesday said the packets were sent by various exporters and were on their way out when detectives smoked out the drugs during a routine screening.

The heroin that was found hidden inside speakers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY

The Kenya Revenue Authority has issued a seizure notice on the narcotics.

While this was khat (also qat) laced with hard drugs, debate on whether miraa is a drug or a harmless stimulant has been raging on for years.

The leaf, whose active ingredient is cathinone, is grown mainly in Yemen and East Africa— Kenya, Ethiopia, some parts of Uganda and in Madagascar.

It has been associated with various health problems, such as impotence in men, dental complications as well as heart conditions.

The compounds cathinone and cathine, active ingredients of the mild stimulant, were listed in a schedule of harmful compounds in the 2000s, effecting the ban on the crop in the US, Norway, Canada and Sweden.

Khat is quasi-legal (its legality is ambiguous), as Lee Cassanelli, a scholar who wrote a seminal chapter on the drug, once said.

The heroin that was found concealed as make-up. PHOTO | COURTESY

In Kenya, it is not only legal but also a main cash crop in Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties.

Miraa gained popularity in the rest of the world after Somalis, who are very fond of it, trevelled with it around the globe.

But in 2013, the Netherlands, which acted as a transport hub for the drug to rest of the world, also banned it.

The then Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers is quoted by Radio Netherlands as saying that 10 percent of Somali men in the country were badly affected by the drug.

“They are lethargic and refuse to co-operate with the government or take responsibility for themselves or their families,” he said.

A government report released to back the ban also cited that noise, litter and perceived public threat posed by the men who used the drug were the reasons behind the move.

The UK soon after declared miraa a class C drug, banning further imports of the stimulant into the country.

Kenya’s biggest market for miraa today is Somalia, with 90 percent of the product going there.

Mogadishu once banned the stimulant after Nairobi banned direct flights between the two cities over terrorism fears.

source:nation.co.ke

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