Those advocating the ban on hemp cultivation do so because of its association with marijuana use. Supporters of hemp cultivation say, however, that at 25 per cent, the protein content of hemp seeds is very high and is, therefore, of interest to the food industry.
In their appeal, the farmers have argued that hemp is a source of protein and should be grown. The farmers will contest the lower court's ruling as well as DEA's claims that hemp and marijuana are the same. Industrial hemp includes the oilseed and fibre varieties of cannabis, which is genetically distinct from the drug varieties of cannabis, they say.
The weed, which was introduced in the region nearly 20 years ago to curb soil erosion, is blamed for causing livestock deaths. Residents of Baringo filed the lawsuit a year back arguing that the thorns of the mathenge weed caused paralysis in humans and livestock. Several farmers have had to leave their land for fear of losing children and livestock. They accused the government of introducing the weed in the area and demanded its removal.
The court held the Kenyan government liable for the losses suffered by the farmers and ordered a commission to draw up the estimates of the losses incurred by farmers. The court also ruled that the weed be eradicated or managed quickly.
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