By Angela Agaba
The Constitutional Court in Kampala has set on notice to deliver a judgement in a case in which a group of Khat mairungi growers want Court to declare that the said crops is not a narcotic drugs but rather a vegetable and a herb that is used to treat various diseases.
The group through their lawyer Isaac Ssemakade,is suing the government(ministry of internal affaires) of illegally stopping them from growing and selling mairungi since it is characterised as a narcotic drug under the Narcotic drug and psychotropic substances Act (2005).
Five Justices led by the Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera have ordered the respondents to file written submissions so that they can deliver their judgement on notice.
The farmers under their umbrella organization Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association want Court to issue orders restraining the Ministry of Internal Affairs from imposing the said ban.
In their submissions, the group claims that they carried out Lab Research and experiments and found out that mairungi is not a narcotic drug but rather a vegetable and a herb that could be used to cure a series of illments .
They asked the Constitutional Court to declare Mairungi as one of the cash crops grown in this country and that it’s a major source of livelihood to many families.
In 2017, the group petition the Constitutional Court after the minister of Internal Affairs listed the said plant as a prohibited drug.
They claim that the said disputed Act that the minister based on to declare marungi, a prohibited crop is not backed up by scientific evidence to prove that it is indeed a narcotic drug.
According to the Narcotic drug and psychotropic substances Act, no one is allowed to grow or be in possession of such crops in Uganda, and if caught, you are punished by law by either paying a fine of not less than 500 currency point (10m)or three times the market value of the drug once found guilty and convicted, or face up to 10 years in prison.
However, the farmers accuses the minister of not consulting them and the said ban is going to negatively affect their livelihoods.