Dodoma — Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Dr Hamis Kigwangalla, has ruled out legalisation of marijuana and khat in Tanzania due to adverse mental effects to users.
"Various studies have proved that the use of marijuana leads to addiction and eventually a mental illness known as cannabis induced psychosis and thus the government can never allow its use," Dr Kigwangalla stressed.
The mental disorder caused by marijuana manifests itself in disorientation and hallucinations. It is a state in which a person's mental capacity to recognise reality, communicate, and relate to others is impaired, thus interfering with the capacity to deal with life demands.
Dr Kigwangalla was prompted to stand on point of information and made the clarification following a contribution by Geita Rural MP, Mr Joseph Kasheku alias 'Msukuma' (CCM), who had challenged the government to explain whether there had been studies to prove the effects of drugs.
"I want the government to explain why it has made marijuana and khat illegal and yet allow the use of hard liquor packed in small sachets (commonly referred to as viroba) which has similar effects particularly to the youth.
"Our neighbours in Kenya reap a lot of foreign exchange by exporting khat as a cash crop while we earn nothing by banning it," he charged.
The MP went further to claim that the use of marijuana boosts performance of farmers in the Lake Zone and made a case for it to be legalised.
"I know of farmers in my area who can till up to two acres per day after using the drug; I as well understand that there are legislators who use marijuana but with clear and sharp state of mind," the lawmaker alleged amid laughter from his colleagues.
He made the statement while debating the guidelines for 2016/17 development plan and budget that was earlier moved in the parliament by Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Philip Mpango. In another development, Mr Kasheku challenged the government to construct an international airport in Mwanza to boost tourism in the region.
He reasoned that the airport will enable tourists to land in Mwanza and travel to Serengeti National Park which is nearby unlike now where backpackers visit the park from Arusha which is far-off.
"Serengeti is just 92 kilometres from Mwanza but tourists are made to use the Arusha route which is over 300 kilometres long," he charged.
All Africa/Feb. 3, 2016
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No Khat or Marijuana Legalization in Tanzania