The debate as to whether to legalize and decriminalize cannabis (marijuana) is still ongoing in Ghana. There have been calls on the government to legalize cannabis (marijuana), popularly known as ‘wee’, in the country by some advocates who believe legalizing the hard drug would help improve the current economic situation in Ghana. On the other side, some proponents like former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, while alive in one of his submissions also asked the government not to only look at the negative side of the hard drug but also think about the benefits that the country can derive after decriminalizing it.
In an interview on SVTV Africa, the Chairman of the Rastafari Council of Ghana, Ahuma Bosco Ocansey aka Daddy Bosco has asked government to take a second look at the legalization of marijuana in Ghana. He told host DJ Nyaami that, the council want government to legalize the drug for exportation purposes only and not for local consumption.
“This whole talk about cannabis economy is not a new thing. The likes of Gabby Otchere-Darko and the late Kofi Annan and other advocates are all calling for the legalization of marijuana. As at now, Uganda is supplying Germany with Cannabis, Jamaican is supplying Canada with cannabis. All the council is saying is, government should call for a forum and let’s exchange ideas on how legalization of cannabis would benefit Ghana”
He added that, “if you look at the economic value, to export it, you need farmers to grow to it after it’s licensed. This will create lots of jobs and income for many and they will be able to pay taxes and then the industrial use is, you can use the cannabis wood fiber to make some of the strongest and most durable woods to build. In Germany, the cannabis fiber is treated to use to produce a car. So all we’re saying is, If Ghana does the right research and the right study, you’ll know that, you can use cannabis locally and also export it internationally. You can also use it for medicinal purposes and for industrial purposes and reap the economic benefits”
Daddy Bosco noted that, the notion about marijuana being a health hazard is not true and has no scientific basis but rather has immense medicinal benefits.
A 2015 United Nations Report stated that Ghana was number three in the global ranking of consumers of marijuana, remaining number one in Africa.
Some African countries are beginning to tap into the profitable industry following the global rise in the use of cannabis- roughly 16 per cent in the decade ending 2016, according to the recent United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) drug report.
Following the extent of legalization observed in Europe and the Americas, in May 2018, Zimbabwe legalized growing marijuana for medicinal and research purposes, becoming the second country after Lesotho to do so. Lesotho had, in 2017, become the continent’s first country to offer legal licenses to grow marijuana.
Marijuana users across South Africa were also full of smiles in September 2018, after a constitutional court ruled that private use of marijuana, locally referred to as dagga, is not a criminal offence.
Obviously, Ghanaians are planting and using marijuana without permit, though, it is criminal. In this regard, if the intention of government is to commercialize and personalize the use of the substance, the focus should be to decriminalize and regulate it. Like in some other countries, when this is done, the economic benefit of taxing the commercial and recreational use of marijuana would be enormous and the threat to the mental health of those who use it would be obsolete.