The POS Foundation has appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to grant amnesty to persons imprisoned for drug use before the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) came into being.
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 see some mercy for those who are already in prison.”
He was speaking during an engagement with media practitioners in Tamale on ensuring the effective implementation of the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019).
It 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”.
Prior to the enactment of the Act, it was a crime to cultivate cannabis in the country and hence many people have been imprisoned for cultivation and or use of cannabis, hence the appeal to grant them amnesty.
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.
“We are not talking about drug traffickers or traders or those who are selling and planting. We are talking about the youth, who are in prison. The prison is already congested,” Mr Owusu said, and that those non-violent drug users should be granted amnesty.
Maria-Goretti Loglo, Africa Consultant, International Drug Policy Consortium, made a presentation on the topic: “Ghana’s Commitment to International and Regional Drug Reform and how to effectively meet these Commitments”, saying drugs cut across all the 16 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She said: “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 and welfare of the citizenry.
Mr Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong, a former Director of the Narcotics Control Commission, called on government to ensure that the licensing regime for the cultivation of cannabis was transparent and fair.
It also needed rigorous monitoring to ensure that the cultivation of cannabis was not hijacked by “big status people.”
“Once we do that, I think that the industrial cannabis alone will contribute substantially to the development of the country.”