Journalists in ER trained on Narcotics Control Commission Act

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Social Workshop Media
Social Workshop Media

Media professionals in the Eastern Region have undergone training on the Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020 (Act 1019) to help them better understand its implementation and prepare them for accurate reporting.

It was organised by the Perfector of Sentiments (POS) Foundation in partnership with the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN)-Ghana chapter, with support and funding from the Open Society Foundation (OSF).

The theme for the training was: “Understanding the Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020 (Act 1019); The role of the media in health; and rights-based best practises for handling people who use drugs in the implementation of the Act.”

Speaking at the forum, Mr. Seth Kwame Acheampong, Eastern Regional Minister, reminded journalists of their critical role in sensitising the public and the importance of equipping them with the fundamentals of the Act for accurate reporting.

He described the passage of the Act (1019) as a significant achievement in the fight against drugs, citing it as evidence of Ghana’s commitment to reforming its drug enforcement laws.

The Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020 (Act 1019) was passed by Parliament on March 20, 2020, and the President signed it on May 11, 2020. It is a significant example of drug policy reform advocacy in West Africa.

Mr. Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director of POS Foundation, stated that the assertion that weed and marijuana were legalised in the new Act was false.

Instead, he said, drug use was made a public health issue and that human rights-based best practises for dealing with people who use drugs were contained in the Act.

“The new Act makes it possible for judges to give alternatives to drug users by referring them to rehabilitation centres instead of being sentenced to prison because it is considered to be addiction,” he said.
“If someone is addicted to a substance, and the person needs help to be able to come out of the addiction, we need to find a way to correct the substance abusers through a treatment centre.”

Mr Owusu stated that when such people go to prison with a stash of marijuana, they return home hardened because they were exposed to hardened criminals.

“With that roll of Marijuana, he comes out knowing all the techniques in prison and when he is going back again, he goes back with a gun by taking someone’s life,” he said.

He urged the public not to shun substance abusers, but rather embrace them and assist them in their rehabilitation process.

He also advised marijuana traders to seek a licence from the sector ministry for their operations and cultivation of the substance, saying: “We believe in the economic benefits that marijuana brings to nations like Canada and California. They use it for hair creams, rope, dresses, and the rest.”

However, he noted that Ghana imported such products and paid taxes to those countries, while the country could produce all of those products using the same marijuana.

The passing of the Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020 (Act 1019), according to Mr. Samuel Owusu-Amponsah, Eastern Regional Commander of the Ghana Prisons Service, “is a relief to the Ghana Prisons Service.”

The Ghana News Agency, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Asaase Radio, The Daily Graphic newspaper, UTV, Peace FM, Ghanaian Times, Oman FM, and a number of other media outlets were among those represented.

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