A report by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in 2008 revealed that there were small scale manufactures of cocaine and heroin in Ghana despite efforts by security agencies to clamp down on Illicit drug trafficking and its use.
The report also indicated that, availability of illicit drugs precursor chemicals in the country contributed to the production of hard drugs including cocaine, heroin, and amphetamine-type stimulants.
"These chemicals come into the country mainly from South Africa and they come through customs checkpoints all the time but the officers are not able to detect them," Dr Joseph Bediako Asare, a member of the International Narcotics Control Board indicated.
Meanwhile, most African countries have become a transit point for cocaine. Several operations by Narcotics Control Board including Ghana have led to huge drug seizures over the years.
Read the full story originally published on March 4, 2008, on Ghanaweb
Contrary to the assertion that Ghana was just a transit point for illicit drugs and not a production country, Dr Joseph Bediako Asare, a member of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), on Wednesday told the Ghana News Agency that the Board suspects there is small scale manufacture of cocaine and heroin in the country.
He said there was overwhelming evidence of the availability of the chemicals used in producing illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin and amphetamine type stimulants in Ghana. These chemicals are used to refine the coca and opium, which are imported into the country.
"These chemicals come into the country mainly from South Africa and they come through customs check points all the time but the officers are not able to detect them," he said.
Dr Asare was speaking to the GNA after the launch of the 2007 INCB Report, which focuses on Proportionality and Drug Related Offences. He noted that even though the security agencies were aware of the availability of the illicit drugs precursor chemicals in the country, they remained somewhat aloof about it because they thought Ghanaians were innocent about their availability and use.
"We tend to think that our youth are innocent but they are gradually getting into the business of drug production and very soon if we do not stem the influx of the chemicals we will have a big drug problem on hand," he warned.
Dr. Asare gave the GNA a list of precursor chemicals used in producing cocaine, heroine and amphetamine type stimulants, which, he said, were currently available in the country.
He called on the government and its agencies responsible for the import of certain chemicals for legitimate purposes to do proper estimates before importing them to ensure that the exact quantities were imported to prevent excess chemicals from getting into the hands of the bad nuts.
The report itself confirmed that drug traffickers were using Africa as a transshipment area for precursors such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine used for making amphetamine type stimulants.
"Weak legislation against trafficking in precursor chemicals in most Africa makes it easy to obtain chemicals for illicit drug manufacture."
It said Interpol estimated that 200-300 tons of cocaine made their way from Latin America into Europe through West Africa, where it was stockpiled and repackaged for transport.
The report said West African countries, mainly Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire lacked the economic means, legislative and institutional structures to counter the drug challenge effectively.
As a result Africa currently accounted for 7.6 per cent of all cocaine abusers in the world and the production and abuse of cannabis was also on the rise on the continent, the report said.
"Another problem in Africa is the misuse of pharmaceutical preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance, which are sold by street vendors and healthcare providers without a prescription," it said.
The report therefore called on African governments to address the problem, which had severe consequences on the health of their population and social fabric.
Dr Asare noted that in focusing on the principle of proportionality in drug related offences, the report sought to propose measures that were proportional to the gravity of the drug menace in dealing with drug related offences.
In that regard, he said, the report recommended the setting up of special courts for dealing with drug-related cases, saying that currently 50 per cent of prisoners in Ghana were in jail for drug related offences.
"We also need acceptable treatment facilities to deal with persons engaged in drug related offences to ensure better rehabilitation because our current social welfare system that takes care of such persons is not effective."
Dr Asare said there was need to be serious about going after suspected drug barons, investigate, prosecute and jail them where necessary to deter people from getting into the drug trade.