Chief psychiatrist rubbishes calls for ‘wee’ legalisation

A chief psychiatrist, Dr Kwasi Osei, says calls for marijuana to be legalised in the country are not justified, and warned of a serious consequence should such proposal be accepted.

According to him, all countries that have legalised the narcotic substance had no option at the time that such decisions or laws were passed as they had lost control on the war on marijuana.

Dr Osei gave the warning on TV3’s current affairs programme, Hot Issues, scheduled to be televise this Saturday at 12:00PM. He was responding to the calls made by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Mr Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, for the drug to be legalised.

Mr Annan in an article last February urged countries to legalize marijuana as a way to combat the menace of drug abuse and illegal trafficking, arguing that “Drugs are dangerous, but current narcotics policies are an even bigger threat because punishment is given a greater priority than health and human rights.”

Mr Sarpong on the other hand, in 2014 proposed the legalisation of marijuana in Ghana considering that the drug is widely used in the country despite it being banned.

For him, ‘virtual legalisation’ was already in force in Ghana as the drug could be found in cosmetics and hair products used by women, and also smoked openly by many Ghanaians, including respected professionals.

But Dr Osei does not see the arguments by the two convincing enough for the country to legalise the drug, saying “we cannot say that we have got to the point where we can throw our hands up and say we’ve lost the battle, therefore, let’s legalise. We have not”.

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Dr Osei said the discussion on legalisation of marijuana ought to be contextualised, noting that countries in the Western world who have legalised the drug did so because they lost the war on it.

Ghana, he said, has not lost the war on marijuana, saying “We [Ghanaians] have not lost control over the war on cannabis, indeed I keep saying we have not waged the war adequately or even probably not started yet”

 He contended that what Ghana is doing is ineffective but that cannot mean the country has lost it in fighting the drug menace.

“Those countries, which have legalised, they are beginning to realise the effect on behaviour and some of them are wishing they had not started so we should learn from them and not start before we later regret,” he stated.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah||Ghana