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Presidential candidate Okong’o Mong’are admits smoking bhang

Nyamira Senator Okong’o Mong’are addressing the media at parliament on Wednesday 25/01/17 [PHOTO:BONIFACE OKENDO/Standard]

A petition before the Senate seeking to legalise the use of banned Cannabis Sativa (bhang) plant in Kenya has faced strong opposition from a section of senators.

Nevertheless, despite attracting intense debate in the House on Wednesday, some senators differed with their colleagues and supported the move, saying the plant’s by-products can be used after extensive research.

The interesting discussions on whether to plant, trade or consume the drug, roped in Nyamira Senator Kenneth Okong’o Mong’are, who is also eying the presidency in August 8th poll, when he shocked his colleagues by confirming he is a former consumer of bhang.

“It doesn’t mean that if the plant is legalized, it will destroy lives. It depends with the level of indulgence. As a juvenile, I used it. I was also in India where the plant is legalized but it is vital if people are disciplined. You can choose not to use it,” said Okong’o.

He stressed, “As a House, we can come up with regulations that encourage deterrence. The government can allow it but have regulations that restrict use.”

In particular, the senators shifted focus and pinned down Okong’o on whether his candidature was as a result of the state of mind he finds himself in, after consuming the drug.

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Senator Haji also pleaded with his colleagues not to disallow the petition, arguing that even Senator Okongo used the plant but still managed to become a legislator.

“The gentleman’s petition should be allowed and he should appear before the committee to explain himself. Senator Okong’o used it but it didn’t prevent him from being a legislator,” said Haji.

Okong’o defended his decision to run for the presidency, saying he was a former consumer of bhang and it didn’t have any negative effect on him.

“I used to use it sometime ago. It didn’t inform my decision to contest for presidency. If the senators want to know about the plant, the House should organise for a retreat to discuss the same,” said the besieged senator.

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