In the past five years, the consumption of cannabis in Kenya has experienced a staggering increase of 90%, according to a report released by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
The prevalence of cannabis use among Kenyans aged 15 to 65 stands at 1.9%, with a total of 518,807 individuals reported to be using the substance. Among the age group of 15 to 24, the usage rate is even higher, at 2.7%, which equates to approximately 193,430 young Kenyans.
The report also highlights the significant gender disparity in cannabis usage, with one in every 26 males and one in every 333 females reported to currently use cannabis in Kenya. These statistics indicate that men are more likely to consume cannabis compared to women.
Interestingly, the report also reveals that one in six Kenyans aged between 15 and 65, which translates to approximately 4.7 million individuals, are currently using some form of substance. Alcohol stands as the most widely abused substance, with approximately one in eight Kenyans aged 15 to 65, or three million people, reported to be current alcohol users.
While cannabis is widely known for its psychoactive properties, recent studies have shown that it possesses medicinal value as well. Scientists have found that cannabis, commonly referred to as “bhang” in Kenya, can be used to treat various health issues such as digestive problems, headaches, pain, and anxiety. Furthermore, cannabis has been found to provide relief to individuals suffering from nerve pain, arthritis, and insomnia.
Despite these potential benefits, the possession, sale, and consumption of cannabis remain illegal in Kenya. Nevertheless, the illicit trade of cannabis continues to thrive, with law enforcement agencies making numerous arrests in an effort to combat the problem.
In 2022, the National Police Service reiterated the government’s stance on cannabis, emphasising that the plant, also known as “bhang” in Kenya, is illegal and prohibited. The government’s position reflects the existing laws and regulations surrounding cannabis in the country.