Pres urged to grant amnesty to drug prisoners

The POS Foundation, a civil society organisation,  has appealed to President Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo to grant amnesty to persons imprisoned for drug use before the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) came into force.

Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director, POS Foundation, who made the appeal, said: “Drug use is a public health matter and a human rights issue per the new Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019). And so, we should have mercy for those who are already in prison.”

The Executive Director made the request during an engagement with journalists in Tamale, on ensuring the effective implementation of the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019).

The event was on the theme: “Understanding the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019): The Role of the Media in Health and Rights-based best Practices to handling people, who use Drugs in the Implementation of the Act”.

Mr Owusu noted that prior to the enactment of the Act, it was a crime to cultivate cannabis in the country and many people have been imprisoned for cultivation and or use of cannabis, and there was the need for the President to grant such people amnesty.

Maria-GorettiLoglo, Africa Consultant, International Drug Policy Consortium, said drugs cut across all the 16 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding “Until we are able to address the issue of drugs, looking at it from the perspective that it cuts across all the SDGs, we cannot achieve the SDGs.”

She called on the media to hold the government accountable to international commitments on issues of drugs for the well-being of the citizenry.

Mr Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong, a former Director of the Narcotics Control Commission, urged government to ensure that the licensing regime for the cultivation of cannabis was transparent and fair.

He said the regime also needed rigorous monitoring, to ensure that the cultivation of cannabis was not hijacked by “big status people”.

MrAkrasi-Sarpong said that “Once we do that, I think that the industrial cannabis alone will contribute substantially to the development of the country.”

With the new law, cannabis of not more than 0.3 per cent THC dry weight is legal in the country, and it has also converted the prison term for drug possession for personal use into a fine, which meant instead of sending people to prison for up to 10 years for possession of drugs for personal use, they would be offered alternatives.

The media engagement formed part of a project being implemented by POS Foundation, International Drug Policy Consortium Africa, and the West African Drug Policy Network with funding from Open Society Foundation that those non-violent drug users should be granted amnesty. -GNA

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