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Health News of Wednesday, 29 June 2016


Ghana should not legalise Cannabis – Akwesi Osei

File photo: Cannabis File photo: Cannabis

Chief Executive of the Ghana Mental Health Authority Dr. Akwesi Osei says he is strongly against the legalisation of cannabis in Ghana.

A report highlights cannabis usage as the highest abused drug in Ghana and in Africa as a whole, while heroin comes second, with annual prevalence use remaining as high as 7.5 percent of the population 15-64 years. The figure is particularly high in West and Central Africa, recording 12.4 percent.

Some have interpreted these figures to mean that laws and punishment against cannabis use are not working, hence the need to adopt approaches that are evidence-based, more humane, and have been proven to work over the years.

As the campaign to decriminalise Marijuana in Ghana continues, it remains to be seen where Ghana will be when the world marks another Day Against Drug Abuse in 2017.

Speaking on 3fm’s Sunrise Morning show the chief psychiatrist strongly condemned the legalisation of the substance stating that it will have a dire effect on society.

“I know there is that debate going on but the status quo right now is that cannabis is an illicit drug and I know people are challenging why it should continue to be illicit.

“There are a whole lot of issues about cannabis and all along when we have known here in Ghana and Africa that cannabis does cause and seriously disposes you and brings about mental illness, in the west they had challenged that position so in those days when you attend conferences and we made this point, they will say it does not.

“It is now quite clear that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the active ingredient in cannabis is much higher in our case than over there and I will not be surprised because everything from here is said to be of the best quality like our gold, cocoa and even our oil recently produced is being recognised as being of the best quality.

“It may have something to do with the climate but it looks obviously that our THC content is much higher and even there in America, they are recognizing that the THC there today is much higher than it used to be some time back.

“The THC is the active ingredients in marijuana just like the nicotine in tobacco so this active ingredient does cause a lot of problems by interfering with the functions and chemicals of the brains that lead to transmission of impulses and then by its interference of the transmission, it causes these effects.

“What it does is that it impacts on a portion of the brain that makes you feel good and you want to go for more and when you go for more the brain gets exposed to more and you get addicted and the addiction is such that without it you can function and the various effects will come in.”

What are the effects?

Dr. Akoto Osei stated, “We have mental and behavioral disorders which interferes with your mental behavior which leads to aggression, violence and for some people it leads them to what we call imotivated for example you don’t feel like going to school because you interest is focused on the cannabis and if you are working you are tempted to quit your job because your interest again is focused on the cannabis.

“The violence of it will lead you into trouble with the law and after you’ve taken it for some time you may not feel like the satisfaction you get so you may want to take something higher so cocaine and heroin come in so a good number of people who take cannabis will progress to cocaine and heroin”.