Former Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Akrasi Sarpong, has revealed that even though marijuana (wee) is illegal for the harm it can pose to users, alcohol which is legal, is much more harmful than marijuana, arguing that jailing users of marijuana does not address the issue of “harm” caused by the substance.
“If it is about harm, alcohol is more harmful than marijuana. Tobacco is more harmful than marijuana. It’s is about harm, let’s schedule the harm…and tackle the harm. If you’re going to deal with the harm related to the substance, then you shouldn’t be taking them (marijuana users) to prison. You should be sending them to the hospital,” he told Frema Adunyame in a documentary titled, “Cannabis: a goldmine or a nation wrecker.”
Ghana’s laws (PNDC Law 236) criminalize marijuana use, import, export and its possession mainly because of its link to mental disorders and diseases. But laws make alcohol legal and it is widely available and consumed.
According to reports by the World Health Organization, worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, this represents 5.3 % of all deaths in the world.
But many individuals and groups, notably the Rastafari Council, have called for its legalisation for both medical and recreational use, consistently making the point that alcohol and tobacco that are much more injurious to humans are legal while marijuana remains illegal. Their call has been ignored by successive governments.
In the opinion of Mr Sarpong, our laws must stress the welfare and health of citizens as espoused by various UN Conventions, noting that the laws on Marijuana punishes insignificant end users while the kingpins of the trade who benefit the most are let off the hook.
To better fight the marijuana canker in the country, he suggested that the drug lords be arrested and put away from society: “Our challenge in this country is that in the continuum of law enforcement, we touch the small fries and leave the big guys. Our strategy need to be non-violent small fries. We need to be sending them to public health. Education. Prevention. The big guys! We need to arrest them. And put them away for twenty years. So they can’t control anything. That for me is what is called ‘smart Law enforcement delivery.”
Several countries have legalised marijuana for various uses such as export or medical purposes with reported returns of huge revenues.