Court Nullifies Law Prohibiting Use Of Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances
Constitutional Court repealed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 2015 which among others prohibited the sale and use of several narcotic and cannabis drugs in Uganda.
In a Friday 5th May 2023 ruling delivered by Justice Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi,the court ruled that the manner in which the entire law was enacted was illegal and the only remedy was repealing it.
“In the premises, I would declare the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 2015 null and void for lack of quorum on the part of parliament contrary to articles 88 and 89 of the Constitution and rule 23 of the Rules of Procedure of the 9th Parliament, 2012 made, pursuant to articles 88 and 94 of the Constitution,” Justice Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi said in a lead judgment.
The ruling follows a a 2017 petition, by farmers of the crop under their umbrella body, Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association Ltd. They reasoned that decision of parliament to pass the law was inconsistent with principles of legality, equality, rationality and proportionality guaranteed under the constitution since they were never consulted something court agreed in its ruling today.
“At the stage of voting, the bill must receive the sufficient number of votes in order for it to be lawfully passed. The sufficient number of votes is prescribed by Article 89(1) of the Constitution. They consist majority of the quorum,” reads the ruling which concludes that any bill passed without the above procedure being followed is null and void.
“I have already established that from the above evidence before this court, the speaker failed to ascertain the quorum as required by rule 23(3) of the rules of procedure of the 9th parliament, 2012. I have also made a finding that the evidence before court supported the petitioners’ claim that there was no quorum at the time of passing the bill for the enactment of the act,” Justice Kibeedi ruled.
Meanwhile, although farming of the mentioned drugs has been illegal, the export of cannabis for medicinal purposes was approved by the Ugandan Ministry of Health in January 2020, which stipulated among other things that all cannabis exporters had to have a minimum capital of USh 18,300,000/= (US$5,000).