Legal regulations to drug use best option - Prof Hart
Professor Carl Hart, a Neuroscientist Drug Researcher at the Columbia University has recommended for the adoption of legal regulations towards drug use, stressing that decriminalization was not the best option to drug use.
He said legal regulation of drug use in the country would ensure quality control and it would also generate jobs and revenue.
Prof Hart was speaking at the Maiden Public Lecture on Drug Policy Reforms in Ghana, which was on the theme: "Drug Policy Reforms; Perspectives on Criminal Justice and Decriminalizing Drug Use in Ghana".
The Lecture was organised by POS Foundation, the West Africa Drug Policy Network, and Crime Check Foundation to engage with communities, citizens and government officials on approaching drug policy formulation, compliance and implementation from a human rights and public health perspective.
It was also to demystify the concept of decriminalization and its implication for Ghana, engage legislators and key stakeholders on the need for drug policies to be grounded on human rights and public health.
It was also to provide a platform for citizens to appreciate and understand the various approaches to respond effectively to the drug challenges including the principles of harm reduction.
He said drug use was overwhelming positive and life-enhancing, indicating that addiction was inevitable and unpredictable.
He said 75 to 80 per cent of drug users do not have problem, some are people who are responsible, pay their taxes and take good care of their families.
He said governments and politicians hide behind Drug Policy Reforms to avoid addressing the real problems affecting the poor in society; which are unemployment, provision of quality education among others.
He said what was needed was better education on the issues and continues engagement and dialogue.
Going forward, Prof Hart expressed the belief that attitudes and laws around drug use need to change.
Mr Seth Kwame Acheampong, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence and Interior said it was refreshing to hear scientists speak on important societal matters like the Drug Policy Reforms that would help society grow.
He said engagement and dialogue was part of the policy cycle and its part of the law-making process of Parliament.
He said government has currently presented to Parliament a Bill on narcotics.
He said the country only has a Narcotic Board and it’s the desire of government to transform it to a Narcotic Commission, a higher body than a Board.
Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu, the Executive Director of West Africa Civil Society Institute said as a country, “we cannot continue to criminalise drug use, especially, Cannabis”.
She said it was mainly the poor that were affected by laws on criminalization and punishment of drug use.
The discussion comes at the back of the introduction of the new Narcotics Control Commission Bill, currently before the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Interior.