One year for a joint in Kenya? Better than some U.S. states

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Eighteen-year-old George NJoroge Chege apparently winds down like many of us do: with a nicely rolled joint. Unfortunately, marijuana laws in Kenya aren’t really conducive to his choice of recreational herb enjoyment.


According to the Kenya Star, Chege was about halfway through a doobie on April 3 in the village of the small town of Muranga northeast of Nairobi when police happened to walk by. Chege wasn’t able to keep it cool, though. Instead he dropped his roach and hit the pavement running.
Cops caught Chege and arrested him. When he finally got before a judge, he was ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 Kenyan shillings. That’s a little over $23 in the United States. Still that 20,000 shillings is a large sum of money and one that Chege didn’t have to spare.
By not paying the fine, Chege was sentenced to a year in jail. He can appeal his sentence over the next 14 days. We’re guessing that if he couldn’t spring for the 20,000 shillings in the first place, he probably can’t afford an attorney for the appeal.
The scary thing is that stuff like this doesn’t just happen in third-world nations. Things like this happen right here in America. You can get life in jail for cultivation or sales in Oklahoma, Florida law says any amount can get you a year and $2,000 in fines. While they do allow for medical marijuana, Arizona laws for possession say that even the smallest amount can be prosecuted as a felony with up to $150,000 in fines and a year and a half in jail. And so-called “three-strikes laws” in some states — like Louisiana — mean that drug felons caught with even a joint of cannabis for a third offense could spend decades in prison.

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