General News of Monday, 9 October 2017
The Mental Health Authority has warned government against legalising cannabis, arguing that the move will worsen alarming cases of mental disorders.
Investigations by World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that in Ghana, over 2.8 million persons live with mental disorders in their daily lives, out of which 650, 000 suffer severe forms of mental illness.
According to the Authority, the use of cannabis has health implications, and making it lawful will compound the already rising cases of mental disorders.
A section of Ghanaians, including former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, are for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use in the country.
But speaking with Class News’ Jerry Akornor on the sidelines of the launch of the mental health week celebration in Accra on Monday, 9 October 2017, Chief Executive of Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, said those who are arguing for legalisation of cannabis are ignorant of its devastating impacts.
He said: “Cannabis should not be legalised in Ghana for the simple reason that we know the harm that cannabis can cause to the human body and to the mind. In fact, cannabis contributes to mental health problems in Ghana. If you go to any of our psychiatric hospitals, for every 100 cases we see, 20 to 30 of them are drug-related at the outpatient department. Of those we admit to the wards, 10 out of 100 are drug-related.
“‘One will say ‘if 100 people take it and only 10 to 20 get a problem what is the big deal’? This is an avoidable condition. If government attempts to legalise it, we will have more of such cases of mental illness. Cannabis can also bring other behavioral problems like violence, aggressiveness…”
Dr Osei also appealed to government to help pass the legislative instrument to back Mental Health Act 846.
He said: “We want the government to pass the LI and establish the mental health levy which is called for in the law. The levy will give us the money, and once we have the money, we will be able to procure all the services that we need.”
Reacting to the calls for the legalisation of cannabis, Public Relations Officer of the Health Ministry, Robert Cudjoe, said it will be suicidal to do so under the current state of affairs.
“Legalising cannabis in Ghana… Well this is neither an official position of the Ministry nor the Minister’s position, but to me, it will be suicidal to legalise cannabis in this country of ours,” he stated.
Meanwhile, head of public relations of the Ghana Standard Authority, Dr Kofi Amponsah Bediako, said if Ghana wants to benefit from the medicinal value of cannabis through exports, government ought to put in a proper security system and legal framework.