Ghana has not legalised ‘weed’— Bagbin clarifies
Speaker of Parliament Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has dismissed reports which claimed that Parliament has legalised the use of India hemp in the country.
According to him, the erroneous reports emanate from the passage of the Narcotics Control Commission (Amendment) Act, which allows for the cultivation of Indian hemp with not more than 0.3 per cent of THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant.
Mr Bagbin made the clarification in a formal communication to the House at its sitting in Accra on Friday.
Parliament on Wednesday, June 12, 2023, passed the Amendment Bill to give the Minister of The Interior the authority to issue licenses for the cultivation of Indian hemp, popularly known as ‘wee’ in the country.
This passage, Mr Bagbin said, has sent the wrong signal to the ‘streets’ that the use of narcotics in Ghana is now legal.
“The passage of the new Act does not legalise the use of cannabis as the penalties that apply to the use of cannabis (for recreational) remain in full force.
“I reiterate; the cultivation, the manufacture, the processing, the production, the sale, the distribution, or the use of narcotic plants, including wee or marijuana, without lawful authority, remains an offence and punishable by our laws.
“There a lot of people on the streets telling their colleagues that we have legalised the use of marijuana and narcotics. We haven’t done such a thing,” Mr Bagbin said.
According to the Speaker, punishments that apply to narcotic offences remain on the country’s statutes and anybody found guilty of it would face the full rigors of the law. I, therefore, call on the law enforcement authorities to continue to investigate, prosecute and commit offenders to the sanctions of the law.”
Mr Bagbin said per the law, license to cultivate is expressly limited to industrial application of cannabis such as the production of medicine that could potentially contribute to the advancement of health care.
“The intention of this provision is not to endorse or legalise the recreational use or smoking of cannabis. We must dispel any such interpretation,” he advised Members of Parliament (MPs).
The provision is to strike a balance to harness the industrial and medicinal potential of producing the approved trait of cannabis for health and economic gains whilst having foothold on the control of the use of recreational cannabis, the Speaker stated.
The overall objective of the amendment, he said, is to refine legal framework in response to evolving circumstances, judicial scrutiny and the need for benefits and social risks.
Mr Bagbin said “The purpose of our legislative action has never been and is not now to legalise or promote the recreational use of cannabis.”
He tasked the MPs to convey the message to their constituents as part of their advocacy during the recess, to ensure that the passage of the amendment act was not misinterpreted.