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Accepted Paper:

HIgh Hopes: Kenya, cannabis and developmental dreams  
Neil Carrier (University of Bristol) Gordon Omenya (Kenyatta University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores hopes and dreams of development in Kenya centred upon cannabis. It provides historical and cultural context of the substance in Kenya, and looks at how politicians and others are eyeing up economic opportunities based on the crop and pushing for policy change.

Paper long abstract:

Kenyan presidential aspirant George Wajackoyah grabbed the headlines in the 2022 election year through his unconventional manifesto centred upon the legalisation of bhang, as cannabis is usually known in Kenya. Such a policy, he claimed, could help service Kenya’s debt through exporting high quality product, as well as pay for infrastructural development in much of the country. His voice joined other recent Kenyan politicians and thinkers – mostly those from Western Kenya where there is a long history of cannabis cultivation and consumption – in promoting legalisation of cannabis both as something that could redress the harms caused by a prohibitory policy that they see as a colonial legacy, and as something that could spark industry and economic growth. This paper explores how cannabis policy has emerged as a lively point of debate in Kenyan society over the last decade, assessing how local and global narratives have combined to give this debate traction. It places this debate within the context of cannabis histories, economies and cultures of consumption within the country, and also assesses the potential for a liberalised future for Kenyan cannabis, something not unthinkable given the many changes in cannabis law through the continent and beyond.

Panel Econ17
African cannabis futures?
  Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -