Mombasa has become the first county to ban the sale and use of muguka, a caffeine-filled stimulant that produces a mild high when chewed.

Governor Abdulswamad Sheriff Nassir issued Executive Order No. 1 of 2024 on May 23, and the first-in-the-nation directive takes effect immediately.

The order calls for sales and distribution of the products, known as jaba in the streets, to stop, and vehicles carrying the same from producer counties, mainly Embu, will be denied entry to the coastal city.

“Muguka has caused widespread damage, especially to our younger generation. We have tried to come up with ways to regulate its trade so that our children don’t get spoilt, but those dealing in it have refused,” Governor Nassir told the press.

Keeping Muguka out of the hands of kids is a top policy priority for the Governor, who said that its content, when one consumes just 20 leaves, is enough to make them have a toxic imagination.

Though muguka is inadequately regulated by Kenya’s NACADA, the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and thus often sold without any scientific evidence of its safety or effectiveness, Governor Nassir said the executive order is in line with the constitution and that its violators will face civil penalties.

“Muguka have amphetamine-like substances that have certain mental effects. It is also true that more people use it because it is cheaper and more readily available,” Chokwe, a psychiatrist, says, adding that both bhang and muguka cause psychotic conditions. “It is a real threat.”