A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychology of the University of Ghana, Dr Wiafe-Akenten Brenya, has asked government not to heed to calls by a section of Ghanaians to legalise the farming and production of marijuana in the country.
He said the country’s challenges with enforcing and regulating laws on other equally important sectors was an indication that it was not ready to deal with problems which may arise following the legalisation of the produce.
According to him, although the country could realise some economic benefits from the production of the produce, it could turn out to pose more danger to the health of Ghanaians than the expected benefits owning to poor regulation.
“Looking at our ability to which we can enforce laws even for ordinary issues, we have not been very successful. Legalising marijuana now can pose more problems for us than the expected economic gain. For now, we must not legalise it,” he stated.
Speaking to Ghanaian Times on the sidelines of a Ghana Pharma Summit in Accra yesterday, Dr Brenya said the government could consider it in the future after the appropriate structures to protect the citizenry from the abuse of marijuana have been instituted.
The summit was on the theme “Practical solutions to ending the drug abuse menace in Ghana.”
To help deal with the menace, he urged for stricter enforcement of regulations on the distribution and use of drugs as well as intensify sensitisation to keep the citizenry abreast with the dangers of abusing drugs.
Additionally, support for victims of drug abuse, including access to healthcare, should be accessible while sanctions for people who flout laws regard drug use should be timely to deter others, Dr Brenya stated.
“For all these measures to achieve its intended objectives there is the need to involve communities in designing strategies, get their inputs as well as how they will help in its implementation,” he added.
Juliana Amankwah-Marfo, Senior Regulatory Officer, Tobacco and Substances of Abuse Department, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), said, Ghana’s porous borders has enabled the proliferation of unapproved drugs and substances from neighbouring countries.
In this regard, she indicated that a comprehensive certification system for the importation of some drugs and substances as well as monitoring of its distribution have been developed to compliment efforts to control drug abuse.
She noted that the Authority was collaborating with the security agencies including the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to clamp down on the smuggling of such drugs and substances into the country.
The FDA, Madam Amankwah-Marfo said, was developing a plan to check the advertisement of drugs and some substances in consultation with manufacturers to protect minors and prevent its abuse.
Spokesperson of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu, advocated the establishment of counseling centres in all educational institutions to offer appropriate guidance to students to prevent them from engaging in drug abuse.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS and DOROTHY BROCKE