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NOT YET UHURU, DEAR WEED SMOKERS! Judiciary Warning Stops Celebrations for Court Ruling in Favour of Ganja Planters

Marijuana
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Uganda’s Judiciary has warned weed (ganja/mairungi/marijuana) smokers against misinterpreting a recent Constitutional Court decision in favour of ganja planters under the Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association Limited.

The facts of this case are that in 2017, Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association Limited filed Constitutional Petition No.0001 of 2017 in the Constitutional Court challenging the enactment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act.

In 2015, Parliament of Uganda passed The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act which set the control of various drugs including marijuana and Catha edulis or Khat, locally known as miraa or mairungi.

The Act repealed sections 26, 29, 47, 49 and 60(1) (b) and (c) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act which restricted the supply, possession, use and cultivation of narcotic substances. It also created various offences for use and being in possession of the same substances without lawful excuse.

In their petition, ganja planters from Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association Limited argued, among others, that there was lack of the requisite quorum in the sitting during which Parliament passed the Act.

On May 05, the temple of justice delivered its ruling on Constitutional Petition No.001 of 2017, agreeing with the petitioners, the ganja planters, and declaring that the piece of legislation was null and void due to lack of quorum by Parliament in passing it.

The ruling quickly sparked media reports that the Constitutional Court had legalized the use of marijuana and that all ganja smokers could chew and puff the weed as much as they wanted.

But through its spokesperson Public Relations Officer Jamson Karemani, the Judiciary has insisted that marijuana consumption remains illegal in Uganda and that there was an existing legal framework through which miraa smokers would be dealt with.

“This is to clarify that that is not the correct interpretation of the decision of the Constitutional Court as claimed in those articles. The annulment of the Act does not invalidate the provisions of sections 26, 29, 47, 49 and 60 (1) (b) and (c) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, which is now the applicable law in regard to regulation and use of restricted substances. Therefore, the substances previously restricted under the National Drug Policy and Authority Act remain restricted,” wrote Karemani.

“It is however imperative to note that Parliament still reserves the power to legislate on the same subject should it find it necessary. For now, it should be known that the Constitutional Court did not and has never legalized the use of the restricted drugs and/or substances under the impugned law. Members of the public are therefore implored to observe the law.”

Although smoking of marijuana (weed) remains a largely frowned upon act in Uganda. During the previous presidential election, candidate Bobi Wine’s photos showing him smoking weed were pinned at the headquarters of the Electoral Commission. (See Details Here).

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