MINISTER OF HEALTH CHITALU CHILUFYA’S BEHAVIOUR ON MEDICINAL MARIJUANA IN PARLIAMENT IS SHOCKING AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL
The Green Party is extremely shocked with the Minister of Health Honorable Chitalu Chilufya’s Ministerial Statement on medical cannabis in Parliament yesterday. It is our considered view that Hon Chitalu’s attitude towards medical cannabis laws, on the floor of the House, contravened Article 5(1) of the Constitution of Zambia, and was therefore unconstitutional and illegal.
Article 5(1) clearly stipulates that the Sovereign authority vests in the people of Zambia. This authority may be exercised directly or through elected or appointed representatives or institutions. Therefore, when the people of Zambia, through their representatives in parliament pass a law, no minister must have the audacity to impugn the will of the people. No minister should cherry-pick that which the people of Zambia decided through their representative in parliament. Any such impunity is therefore unconstitutional and illegal.
It is our considered view that Hon Chitalu’s attitude towards medical cannabis laws, on the floor of the House, contravened Article 5(1) of the Constitution of Zambia, and was therefore unconstitutional and illegal.
It is shocking that Hon Chilufya decided to contradict what the Minister of Home Affairs Hon. Steven Kampyongo informed the House in a Ministerial Statement on the debate surrounding the legalization of medicinal cannabis in February this year. The Hon Kampyongo stated that there are two laws passed by parliament that provide for use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Hon Kampyongo cited Section 9 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act Cap 96 of the Laws of Zambia as one of the laws which provide for cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. He further stated that in order for one to do so, it was imperative that they obtain lawful authority, failure to which, one commits an offence.
Furthermore, Hon Kampyongo provided guidance on where to obtain the lawful authority. He guided that in terms of Section 6 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, Cap 95 of the Laws of Zambia, it was the Minister of Health authorized to issue licence for cultivation and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. He clarified that the mandate of the Drug Enforcement Commission was to enforce the laws and not to issue licenses for persons intending to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Disappointingly, the Minister of Health Hon Chitalu Chilufya issued an impunity Statement in Parliament yesterday stating his ministry will not issue any licenses for cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or any other purposes.
As the Green Party, we are extremely disappointed that a minister can have the audacity to cherry-pick which laws to enforce and which laws to illogically ignore, even when duly advised by a fellow Cabinet Minister on the floor of the House through a Ministerial Statement.
In this regard, as the Green Party, we now have no option but to seek legal redress in the Constitutional Court. First, we will petition the Court seek to establish the constitutionality of Hon Chitalu’s behaviour to cherry-pick which laws to abide by and which laws to impugn. Secondly, we will seek to establish whether it is constitutional for the Minister to willfully deny the people of Zambia a choice of medicines which are lawfully legislated. Thirdly, we will seek to establish whether it is constitutional for the Minister to aggravate the suffering of people of Zambia by denying them an opportunity to access and use cheap alternative medicines.
Finally, we will seek to establish whether it is constitutional for the Minister to unreasonably deny the Green Party a business opportunity, when pursuant to Article 10 of the Constitution of Zambia, Government is obligated to create an economic environment which encourages individual initiative and self-reliance among the people, so as to promote investment, employment and wealth. Furthermore, Article 10 obligates Government to promote the economic empowerment of citizens so that they contribute to sustainable economic growth and social development. Green Party members have been willfully denied by the Minister of Health of a lucrative economic empowerment opportunity running in billions of dollars, contrary to the constitution.
We will therefore be filing a multi-billion dollar suit against Government in the Constitutional Court next week.