, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – Kenya will not approve recreational use of marijuana during next month’s United Nations Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), according to NACADA Chief Executive Officer William Okedi.
Though some states in the USA have approved the use of marijuana for medical reasons, he says research indicates that it has negative impact on those who consume it.
“A clamour for legitimising use of cannabis for medication and recreation has in the last few years gained ground especially in developed countries, but certainly with disastrous consequences,” he said.
The State of Colorado that legalised recreational use of marijuana in 2012, Okedi said it has seen a 32pc jump in marijuana-related traffic fatalities, big increases in emergency-room visits and hospitalisations, and greater cannabis usage by youths age 12 to 17.
“It has also led to 40pc more school expulsions, increased school dropout rates and indiscipline leading to predictable poor academic performance,” he lamented.
He made the announcement during the ongoing 4th National Conference on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, during which stringent measures are set to be adopted, to help NACADA fight the menace.
“We shall ensure that our disapproval is duly captured in the final UNGASS 2016 Outcome Document so that the same is appropriately concretized in our legislation,” he said.
Okedi said the war on drug and alcohol abuse remains hampered by several challenges in the country.
Currently, he said Kenya has no specific national policy or legislation on implementation of harm reduction interventions targeting illicit drug users either singly or in combination with HIV and AIDS.
This is largely undertaken by the civil society with support from international development agencies, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) according to the CEO.
Another challenge hampering the authority efforts to fight the menace, he said was that, “many Kenyans suffer substance abuse disorders but are not aware of or do not have access to addiction treatment.”
“As such, there is need to publicize the availability of addiction treatment services in the country, and to support establishment of affordable and accessible these services.”
During the two-day conference, the delegates are set to come up with measures that will encompass prevention, treatment efforts, health related issues including HIV/AIDS and availability of opiate-pain medication.
They will also deliberate around Government’s response to drug related crime, money-laundering, promoting judicial cooperation and enhancing domestic, regional and cross-regional responses to drugs-related crime among other issues.
The authority Chairman John Mututho, on his part urged the government to form an enforcement unit for NACADA but says they are underfunded for them to efficiently execute their mandate.