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Snake Venom and Cannabis: Kenya’s Economic Salvation?

George Wajackoyah (one of four Kenyan presidential contenders) proposes legalizing cannabis to increase domestic snake production to kick start the economy.

In addition to its use in cannabis production, snake venom can also be used in the manufacture of high-blood pressure medications. The price of venom on the international export market can reach $120 per kilogram. The market for this product is also growing—and expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2027.

Wajackoya, a lawyer, is a member the Roots Party that also advocates for a 4-day work week. However, it is his esoteric proposals on the cannabis and venom front which is allowing him to make at least a decent showing if not capture votes that might otherwise go to the leading two candidates—a former Prime Minister and the current Deputy President. Undecided voters are flocking to his campaign simply because of the cannabis topic. Some believe he will do enough well to trigger a runoff.

The entire election has become more controversial since Reuben Kigame was barred from running as a candidate. Kigame is a prominent blind gospel singer. Six of the most prominent candidates for the governorship are currently under scrutiny after allegedly submitting false academic credentials to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Cannabis reform in Kenya is not, however, the most talked about topic this year. It is still a hot international issue.

Kenya’s Impact on Cannabis Cultivation

Kenya is hosting its August presidential election. This country, which borders Uganda in East Africa (and now exports high-THC cannabis to Israel and Europe), will be the next member of East Africa’s political elite. The average Kenyan citizen has several options to support themselves, such as a $60 per-month stipend for those who are not employed.

This region is best known for the Big Five Wildlife Population, Annual Wildebeest Migrations, and Mount Kilimanjaro.

The country’s reputation is not just for its breath-taking beauty, however. It is a country with a low-income economy, where about 16% live below the poverty level. The country is also plagued by extreme gender inequality and economic corruption, as well as severe illness that impact large numbers of its population, such as HIV, malaria and pneumonia. The country is also plagued by a severe lack of infrastructure, leaving 19 million (or 35%) people without clean water.

Kenya also suffers from the direct effects of war in Ukraine. Conflict has caused disruption in the availability of maize, wheat, fertilizer and oil seeds for Kenya. The wheat prices have increased more than twice in the past year. The country is now one of three top countries to receive foreign exchange money (used for basic household and medical expenses, as well as education) as early as this month.

African Hemp: Its Worth

Even though promises of presidential power are sometimes not as good as they seem, Kenya may prove to be an exception. This is how it works. The USDA has U.S. data that shows hemp prices vary greatly from one state to the next. Hemp sold in Colorado last year for $4.09. It was $503 per pound in Massachusetts, however. This delta refers to a product now legal at the national level.

The international market is not the same in terms of price. GMP indoor hemp, of superior quality, is quite different from hemp that has been grown outside. Beyond this, the plants must test clean of heavy metals and pesticides—and below national and regional import countries mandates on THC percentage (between 0.02% and 0.03%).

The bottom line: Bottom line: Snake venom farming could prove more profitable on an international market than the already struggling Kenyan economy. But it is clear that cannabis reform is a global topic this year—and likely to show up in elections far from Africa.