Legal regulations to drug use best option – Prof Hart

Morkporkpor Anku, GNA

Accra, July 19, GNA – Professor Carl Hart, a
Neuroscientist Drug Researcher at the Columbia University has recommended for
the adoption of legal regulations towards drug use, stressing that
decriminalization was not the best option to drug use.

He said legal regulation of drug use in the
country would ensure quality control and it would also generate jobs and revenue.

Prof Hart was speaking at the Maiden Public
Lecture on Drug Policy Reforms in Ghana, which was on the theme: “Drug
Policy Reforms; Perspectives on Criminal Justice and Decriminalizing Drug Use
in Ghana”.

The Lecture was organised by POS Foundation,
the West Africa Drug Policy Network, and Crime Check Foundation to engage with
communities, citizens and government officials on approaching drug policy
formulation, compliance and implementation from a human rights and public
health perspective.

It was also to demystify the concept of
decriminalization and its implication for Ghana, engage legislators and key
stakeholders on the need for drug policies to be grounded on human rights and
public health.

It was also to provide a platform for
citizens to appreciate and understand the various approaches to respond
effectively to the drug challenges including the principles of harm reduction.

He said drug use was overwhelming positive
and life-enhancing, indicating that addiction was inevitable and unpredictable.

He said 75 to 80 per cent of drug users do
not have problem, some are people who are responsible, pay their taxes and take
good care of their families.

He said governments and politicians hide
behind Drug Policy Reforms to avoid addressing the real problems affecting the
poor in society; which are unemployment, provision of quality education among

He said what was needed was better education
on the issues and continues engagement and dialogue.

Going forward, Prof Hart expressed the belief
that attitudes and laws around drug use need to change.

Mr Seth Kwame Acheampong, the Chairman of
the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence and Interior said it was
refreshing to hear scientists speak on important societal matters like the Drug
Policy Reforms that would help society grow.

He said engagement and dialogue was part of
the policy cycle and its part of the law-making process of Parliament.

He said government has currently presented
to Parliament a Bill on narcotics.

He said the country only has a Narcotic
Board and it’s the desire of government to transform it to a Narcotic
Commission, a higher body than a Board.

Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu, the Executive
Director of West Africa Civil Society Institute said as a country, “We cannot
continue to criminalise drug use, especially, Cannabis”.

She said it was mainly the poor that were
affected by laws on criminalization and punishment of drug use.

The discussion comes at the back of the
introduction of the new Narcotics Control Commission Bill, currently before the
Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Interior.