As Kenya faces inflation, unemployment and exorbitant public debt, George Wajackoyah, one of the four presidential candidates in the upcoming August elections, says he wants to get the economy back on track by legalizing cannabis and farming snakes.
Wajackoyah’s rivals, one a former prime minister and one a deputy president, are promising a $60 monthly stipend for unemployed citizens of which Kenya has many, in addition to other economic reforms, writes Quartz Africa.
Wajackoyah, a trained lawyer and leader of the Roots Party, and his running mate Justina Wambui plan to legalize the farming of hemp so that its fiber can be used in industry and to create CBD-based medicines. They’ve also said they want to legalize and control the use of recreational marijuana to ensure that only hemp is grown in Kenya.
A 2019 report by Prohibition Partners that surveyed nine African countries calculated that Africa’s legal cannabis industry will grow to $7.1 billion by 2023. Wajackoyah wants Kenya to take advantage of this lucrative market.
“Kenyans will be so rich that they will only be working four days a week,” Wackajoyah said on Citizen TV.
Tap Snake Venom Market As Well?
Wajackoyah says he wants Kenya to take up snake farming on an industrial scale. Snake venom, used in the manufacture of drugs and to treat snake bites, can earn as much as $120 per gram. “Proceeds from the sale of snake poison (sic) alone are enough to repay our Chinese loans,” Wajackoyah said.
The global market for anti-venom drugs made out of snake venom is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2027. The New York Times reported last month that efforts to separate and isolate the vast quantity of proteins in venom have burgeoned in recent years, leading to important drug discoveries.
The Marijuana Mantra
“However wild Wajackoyah’s schemes sound, he could still prove to be a spoiler in the presidential race,” said Herman Manyora, a political analyst and lecturer at the University of Nairobi.
The cannabis narrative has brought Wajackoyah such wide renown that he may scuttle the chances of his nearest rivals and end up garnering the requisite 50% plus one vote that they need to win.
“I won’t be surprised if he causes a re-run in August,” Manyora said. “The marijuana mantra is pulling crowds and that could attract undecided voters.”
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