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Opinions of Monday, 17 March 2014

Columnist: Ama Larbie

Will Ghana Police, BNI invite NACOB boss for rallying for ‘weed’ legalization?

I wanna get high, so high 2x

One draw, one draw 2x

Hey rastaman, hey what you say

Give mi some of yu sense

Hey iyah man, hey whatta say

Give mi some of yu sense

So long I have been

Searching for a taste

Looking all over the place

Not a thing could I find

To satisfy my mind

There was joy, gladness and overwhelming embrace in the hearts of ordinary ‘weed smokers’ and the Rastafari community when the Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, shared their bane on the legalization of Marijuana (weed/ ‘ntampi’) in the country.

To him, marijuana has long been legalized in the country just that it is unofficial because already; mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives are using hair creams made of Indian hemp for their hair.

The NACOB boss, Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, further noted as an ‘oman ba pa’ who sees the negative impact the fall of the Cedi has on Ghana’s economy, believes that the banned substance, if regulated, can benefit the country and, therefore, boldly called for a national debate on the matter.

He is certain that legalizing marijuana, as some states in the U.S.A have done, will help regulate its use and reap huge profits.

According to him, fighting the sale and use of marijuana is a headache the country must tackle; "the social reality is that ordinary people think that what we are fighting is not a crime". The man tasked to weed to put a stop to this worrisome menace seems to have given up and concedes biting more than he can chew for which he and his administration, after deep thinking, is considering the legalization of the act.

The Executive Secretary of NACOB and his administration upon their undercover investigations in some of these domiciled villages including Wullin in the Jirapa District, Liati-Soba in the Afadzato South District and Koru in the Alavanyo-Nkonya District to mention a few; where dealers in the drug lavish their cash to support a subtle community welfare system, they came to see the normality and the good impact when legalized?

I believe there is a huge reason for this assertion, but could this be that they enjoyed the hyper feeling they had after taking a ‘deep’ mouth-laboratory test? Or possibly he is talking on behalf of some prominent government officials who see good in the substance?

Well, he says he is personally against legalizing the substance his outfit speaks ill of, arrests people with any links to the substance (‘ntampi’ or weed). But now, he thinks it will help the country when its use is regulated, and even posing as an economist, is discussing the huge profits Ghana can reap since local consumption is so high, and people are not as interested in exporting it.

What happens to prisoners who were incarcerated for possessing the substance?

This is coming from the Boss of a government outfit that has testified and helped police prosecute suspects for possessing the substance believed to be marijuana (Indian hemp or weed), with some of these victims still on remand. But now, he thinks Ghana can benefit from the substance people are lurking in jail for. Are their cases going to be recalled and their status reinstated?

An article published on on Saturday, 5 March 2011; sourcing The Chronicle headlined: ‘Bonanza for "ganja" farmers.’ An excerpt in the article stated that under a special scheme to be initiated on behalf of the state by the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), the Government would partner wee farmers to divert into other profitable farming ventures; with the aim of reducing the increasing yield of the narcotic drug in the country.

This, in fact, clearly indicates that there has been a real tough negotiation for bill passing in favor of marijuana in the country between NACOB, the sector ministry and perhaps Parliament, among other influential outfits in the country.

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, I went out to meet some of my Rastafari friends to hear their views on Yaw Akrasi Sarpong’s assertion and subsequent recommendation to government to consider legalizing what they (Rastas) believe is food?

They said, and I quote, “NACOB boss has done very well in making such an assertion, at least he shares our bane and sees the benefit the country will gain when ‘ntampi’ (weed) is legalised. We hope and pray Jah will give Parliament the insight to pass the bill on regulating what protects our mind and soul.”

Quoting from the 2013 documentary on the late Bob Marley, Empress Rita Marley, his wife, noted, "Herb is like a sacrament and food to us, we take it for reasons not just to get higher and ‘misbehave,' but to put us to the Holy, Peaceful and Inspirational mood."

"People must not shy away from discussing the matter, let's face it," she opined.

The notwithstanding, the constitution is clear on the use of the substance and prescribes the highest punishment for persons found guilty of its use. The constitution mandates NACOB, and, therefore, Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, to bring all persons to book on the use of the banned substance, but if HE is today telling is that he does not think his job is inimical to the economic growth of the republic and citizens of this nation... then what next?

In any case, shouldn't cocaine be what we should be legalising if this whole crusade is about making more money? Will he be calling for the legalisation of COCAINE as well?

With such strong rallying words coming from the Boss of the Narcotics Control Board in favor of a banned substance, will GPS and BNI invite Yaw Akrasi Sarpong to answer some vital questions or they support his assertion?

Will the president recognise that the pronouncement of Yaw Akrasi Sarpong compromises his position as NACOB Boss and raise questions about his government's commitment to the fight against the drug trade?

I rest for now

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