Marijuana Use Common In Schools, Households

The Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Mr Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, has expressed concern over the increasing use of marijuana in the country.

According to him, the major illicit drug challenge facing the country now was the cultivation, distribution and use of marijuana by school children and households.

He said the use of marijuana cut across all aspects of the Ghanaian society and had assumed such an alarming rate that it was being grown in many villages in the 10 regions.

In some cases, he said, farmers were planting cannabis instead of foodstuffs.

Launch of Report

Speaking at the launch of the annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) for 2013 in Accra Tuesday, Mr Sarpong said many people, including politicians, journalists, doctors, students, teachers, lawyers and children, were involved in the use of the drug.

He said what was more disturbing was the fact that children as young as five or six years were sent by their teachers or adults to buy the drug for them, thereby putting them at great risk.

Mr Sarpong said some old women or grandmothers also assisted in the sale of marijuana by hiding it in their clothes to supply to buyers.

According to him, currently there had been a reduction in the abuse of drugs such as heroin and cocaine due to the serious abuse of marijuana which was readily available.

The report, which analyses trends in the illicit trafficking of drugs generally in the world, as well as the drug situation in specific geographical areas, was launched simultaneously throughout the world.

This year’s launch marks the 45th annual report of the board since its inception in 1968, in accordance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961.

Over the period, there have been significant emerging challenges and efforts made in addressing the global drug problem.

Special Focus

The report also has a special focus on the extent of economic and social cost of drug abuse in the area of health, public safety, crime, productivity and governance.

Launching the report, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, in a speech read on his behalf, said the government had shown its commitment to the principle of shared responsibility in drug control.

He said Ghana, over the past two decades, had consistently and effectively partnered the international community in various ways to combat the drug menace, both within and outside the African continent.

Government commitment

He reiterated the commitment of the government was committed to fighting the drug menace in the country.

In its quest to ensure that Ghana became a high-risk, low-value territory for key drug dealers, Mr Ahwoi said, the government had supported NACOB to increase its staff strength from about 120 to 560.

Furthermore, he said, as promised by President John Mahama in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament, a bill to amend PNDCL 236 and make NACOB a commission would soon be passed into law.

“In addition to this, the government has approved that the schedule to PNDC Law 236 be amended to include some new synthetic psychotropic substances such as methamphetamine and its derivatives,” he said.

The Chairman of the Governing Board of NACOB, Capt Baffour Asaase Gyimah (rtd) said the report indicated that methamphetamine was being increasingly trafficked from West Africa to East and South East Asia.