Mr Issahaque Bakuri, the Upper West Regional head of the Narcotics Control Commission (NACOC), has indicated that people who smoke substances such as marijuana increase their risk of suffering from the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) complications.
He said tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient in marijuana for instance, had adverse effects on the lungs of people who smoked the substance and leads to coughing and breathing difficulties, which were also symptoms of the COVID-19.
Mr Bakuri said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa on Thursday in relation to the World Drug Day.
The United Nations (UN) had set aside June 26 every year as World Drug Day to create awareness of drug trafficking and the dire effects of drug abuse on the health and well-being of individuals, their communities and the nation at large.
This year’s commemoration on the theme: “Better Knowledge for Better Care”, was geared towards enhancing understanding of the world drug problem and fostering greater international cooperation toward averting its impact on people’s health, governance and global security.
Mr Bakuri said some people had the notion that smoking could help cure COVID-19 patients or protect one from contracting the virus, which he said was false.
“There has not been any scientific research to prove that smoking marijuana could cure the virus. The fact is that smoking marijuana or any other drug affects the lungs and we are aware of how the virus also affects the lungs, so smoking marijuana will cause more health complications and put your life at risk in case you are infected with the virus” he explained.
The NACOC Regional boss said people engaged in drug abuse due to the misinformation they received from their peers regarding these drugs.
He said in the Upper West Region for instance, the most abused drug was marijuana because it was produced locally, readily available and cheaper as compared to other substances such as cocaine and heroin, which were imported and expensive.
Mr Bakuri explained that drug abuse could lead to a surge in crime activities such as armed robbery as it was financially demanding for people who were addicted to such drugs to satisfy the continues urge to be take them.
He said drug addicts were also susceptible to be used to incite violence in society and by politicians to scare their political opponents, and said this was detrimental to national security.
On the cultivation of cannabis in Ghana, Mr Bakuri said it was illegal and a criminal offence for any person or groups of persons to own, cultivate, grow or harvest any plant that could be used as a narcotic without lawful authority.
“However, the Minister of Interior, on the recommendation of the Commission may grant a license for the cultivation of cannabis which has not more than 0.3 per cent THC content on a dry weight basis for industrial purposes of obtaining fibre or seed or for medicinal purposes and not for recreational use”, he added.
He said as part of efforts to help reduce the menace of drug abuse, the Commission had embarked on public sensitisation drive in schools, communities and through the media on the effects of drug abuse.
Mr Bakuri said getting the people to be well informed about the dangers of engaging in drug abuse could help them to stop, and urged those who were engaged in drug abuse to desist from the act as it was harmful to their lives.