By David, for WhatsUpNews Ghana

Civil Society Organisations West Africa Drug Policy Network, POS Foundation and Crime Check Foundation have challenged the government to decriminalise drug use by Ghanaians and rather allocate resources to rehabilitating and supporting chronic drug users.

In a statement copied to Whatsup News, the group said “The criminalization of drug use and possession has led to the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of thousands of Ghanaians across the country. Faced with an over-zealous justice system, social, health, and economic costs of criminalization, Ghana’s drug law over the years has disenfranchised many young men and women, especially those who use drugs.”

According to the group, minimal possession of categorised narcotic drugs have been used to ruin the lives of many young people in the country. “A person caught with one joint of marijuana or 0.05grams of cocaine can spend the next 10 years in prison. This law has caused more harm than good, giving criminal records to many young men and women, criminal tags serving as albatross on their necks for the rest of their lives. These tags have disabled many young men and women from accessing jobs, benefiting from government initiatives and incentives, and even denying them of their fundamental human rights enshrined in our 1992 constitution,” Maria-Goretti Ane-Loglo, a spokesperson of the drug advocacy CSOs stated.

She suggested how decriminalisation could be enforced in Ghana: “Over time, people have confused “decriminalization” with “legalization” in the whole debate around drug policy reform in Ghana. They are not the same thing. Under legalization, the sale, acquisition, use, and possession of drugs are legal. Our current policies regulating alcohol and tobacco, for those of the legal age, are examples of drug legalization. Under decriminalization, on the other hand, the acquisition, use, and possession of drugs can be met with a warning or by a small civil fine much like traffic violations are.”