Group petitions Akufo-Addo, Parliament to legalise marijuana

Save the Nation for Future Leaders, a pressure group, has petitioned President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Parliament, to legalize marijuana for medicinal and commercial purposes.

The group however said sanctions for recreational use of marijuana should be maintained.

The group repeated its call, in an interview with journalists at the Parliament House in Accra, after presenting the petition to the Chief of Staff of the Presidency; and Parliament, through its Public Affairs Department.

The group made a case for the drug to be legalized, citing its economic benefits to countries which had engaged in large scale production.

Mr Kwadwo Atta Apeakorang, President and Founder of the group, said: “Save The Nation for Future Leaders does not support a universal marijuana legalisation as recreational use of the drug cannot be regulated by the State.

“Thus, while we call for the drug to be legalised for commercial purposes, sanctions for recreational use should be maintained.”

He said Ghana would also benefit if it engaged in the thriving marijuana business, which he said was sustaining the economies of the developed world and other African countries.

“It is economically unwise for Ghana, a developing country, to waste both capital and human resources to destroy marijuana,” Mr Ape said.

He recalled that in the last few years, about three hundred acres of marijuana plantation and tonnes of same had been destroyed by a joint team of personnel from the Narcotics Control Board, Ghana Police Service and other security agencies.

He said statistics indicated that in 2017, marijuana sales in some parts of the USA reached $655m, outweighing that of alcohol by over $100m and it is estimated that an acre of marijuana plantation generates as much as $1.1m in revenue.

Mr Apeakorang said the deployment of logistics and personnel for the destruction exercises had cost Ghana about $1bn.

He described marijuana as “being a burgeoning, dynamic and valuable non-traditional export commodity,” which provides important sources of income for large numbers of people in the distribution chain of the drug.

“In the developed world, marijuana has generated $2.2bn and $1.56bn for US states of California and Colorado respectively, while in Africa, Uganda has signed a deal worth $3bn to export medical marijuana to Canada and Germany,” Mr Apeakorang said.

Similarly, the Moroccan marijuana business is estimated to generate $10bn annually.

According to Mr Apeakorang, currently, Ghana exported 900,000 tonnes of cocoa annually, accruing about $2 billion; and while marijuana matures and is harvested after three months, the first pods from cocoa are harvested after three years; thus, in three years, a farmer may harvest marijuana about ten times.

The group said it was convinced that a 150-acre marijuana plantation would generate more than $2 billion if maintained for four years.

The group called on the Government of Ghana to consider adding marijuana to the list of crops approved for Planting for Food and Jobs flagship programme, and to be made a special initiative carried out or supervised by the military.

“Legalising and regulating marijuana cultivation, harvesting, processing and export, could earn Ghana more foreign exchange than what cash crops and minerals are earning,’ the group said.

Mr Apeakorang noted that calls by individuals and institutions to consider legalising marijuana had attracted unwarranted, uneducated opposition from religious groups and individuals over the years.

He however recalled that Mr Akrasi Sarpong, a former Narcotics Control Board Executive Secretary, had emphatically stated that “we can get a lot more products from marijuana than cocoa, marijuana doesn’t kill, we can use it for commercial purposes which Ghana can make a lot of money from.”

Also, the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Ghana Police Service had also made calls for government to consider legalising the drug.

“Save The Nation for Future Leaders believe that a proper drug administration system would ensure both revenue generation and a reduction in the recreational usage of the drug,” the group said.

He gave examples from Uganda and Lesotho, where he said, companies had engaged in large scale production of marijuana for substantial economic benefits.

“It is, therefore, not out of place for Ghana to consider processing marijuana on a large scale for export.

“We suggest that Government of Ghana should emulate the Malawian example where the Government of Malawi did a trial cultivation of marijuana ahead of legalization,”he said.

The Ghana Armed Forces should be licensed to start commercial marijuana cultivation and processing for export, as the Government of Italy did.

This, the group said, would not only ensure the drug was regulated but also ensure that the crop was maintained under the right conditions for the quality that was required by the international market.

Describing marijuana as “one of the best herbs on the globe,” Mr Apeakorang said the punitive sanctions the law attaches to issues relating to marijuana were no longer logical, and called on Parliament, to pass the Narcotics Control Commission Bill of 2017 as early as possible.

“The passage of the Bill into law will also ensure that recreational users of the drugs who have had complications but are afraid of incarceration if found out, would now be able to freely seek medical attention.”

Source: GNA

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