West Africa has become a hub for drug trafficking and usage, as cartels exploit weak security systems, and collaborate with locals to use the region as a transit route for exporting illicit drugs to Europe and North America. The region’s youthful populations have become heavy users of these drugs as a consequence.The West Africa Commission on Drugs in their report released in June 2014 titled” Not Just in Transit: Drugs, the State and Society in West Africa?, further emphasized that drug-related problems exist at all levels of society in West Africa.
The Commission in their report developed a set of evidence-based recommendations that call for governments of West African States to treat drug use as a public health issue and not a criminal justice problem, invest in evidence-based health services, and to reform existing laws and policies on drugs – including the removal of criminal sanctions for minor and non-violent offenses.
According to Joana A. Boateng Country Leader for SSDP Ghana, "Drug use in West Africa for that matter Ghana have always taken the prohibition lane which over the years has seen a lot of our youth languishing in jail for so long. It is a bit worrisome to see very productive age group of our youth given criminal records for the rest of their lives." "The youth being the foundation of life and society, must be given the necessary support though rehabilitation, public health and an alternative punitive measure instead of incarceration and imprisioning . We expect our society to succeed and have great future leaders."
In view on the above, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Ghana Chapter, which is an international grassroots of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also knows that “the war on drugs” is failing our generation and our society whiles mobilizing and empowering young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future while fighting back against counterproductive drug war policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth. It is in light of this that SSDP is organizing an open Forum and a fundraising themed “WAR ON DRUGS: REHABILITATION NOT INCARCERATION, SCHOOLS NOT PRISONS”. The aim of the fundraising Is to help with advocacy and youth activities in both senior high school and tertiary institutions to enable SSDP the chance to impact into the lives of the youth whiles helping people who are problematic drug users into rehabilitation.
The programme will be held at the University of professional studies ( UPSA ) auditorium, Legon at 10am on 26th August 2016. Hon. Dzifa Gomashie (Deputy Minister of Tourism) , Her Excellency Claudia Turbay (Ambassador of Colombia to Ghana) , Dr. Appiagyei-Atua of UG and Mr. Henry Squire of hopeful way foundation will be guest speakers for the open forum.
One of Ghana's best poets and spoken word artiste, "Polite & Ethical Parties" wordsmith RhymeSonny will bless the event with some good breed of words.
The event is FREE and organizers entreat all youth in Ghana to attend. Contribute to the drug abuse conversation via hashtag #SSDPFORUM.