Ghana’s Mental Health Authority in Strong Opposition to Marijuana Legalization

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Dr. Akwasi Osei of Ghana's Mental Health Authority (Photo via Ghana News Agency)
Dr. Akwasi Osei of Ghana’s Mental Health Authority (Photo via Ghana News Agency)

Despite a subtle but unrelenting campaign by interest groups and civil society organizations for cannabis to be legalized in Ghana, the Mental Health Authority said the banned substance poses health hazards.

Chief Executive of the Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei, said cannabis — also called marijuana, weed, wee and a host of other names — especially poses severe threat to the mental health of people who use it.

Dr. Osei was speaking to Joy News’ Latif Iddrisu on Sunday as the world marked Day Against Drug Abuse.

“If you take marijuana in your teens when the brain is actively developing, you interfere with your ability to be motivated adequately, to judge adequately,” he said.

The Narcotics Drug Law prohibits any person from cultivating, using, importing or exporting any narcotic drug without a license from the Health Ministry. Offenders are liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than 10 years.

These provisions notwithstanding, weed cultivation in remote parts of the country remain a big business.

The market for the banned herbal plant still thrives and has become a major livelihood for many farmers. In some communities, cultivation of cannabis is big business.

Latif Iddrisu, who visited some locations in the country where wee farms are thriving, reports that some regular farmers do mix-cropping of food crops with marijuana.

Some users of the herb also justify the need for its legalization with testimonies of cure for their asthmatic and other health conditions.

One cannabis user recounted his experience, “I never thought I would dare smoke. But I am an asthmatic patient. I have been an asthmatic patient from infancy. I started hearing that it [marijuana] is good for asthma, epilepsy and other ailments,” he said.

“So I said, let me experiment it on myself, after all, I am already dying, then I will give my own judgement on what it does to me. So I decided to test it and surprisingly after smoking it the whole day I was excited,” the elated user said.

Some interest groups say addressing the use of marijuana, also called ‘wee,’ through criminal justice institutions ultimately infringes on various fundamental rights of people who use drugs, including the rights to health, information, personal autonomy and self-determination.

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