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The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei, has strongly opposed the legalization of marijuana popularly known as ‘wee’.
He argues the type of wee used in Ghana is highly dangerous compared to the ones abroad.
According to him, 30 percent of the cases at the outpatient department in our mental hospitals are also a result of abuse of drugs including marijuana.
Ten (10) percent of patients admitted at the psychiatric hospital he noted are persons who have abused marijuana and other hard drugs.
He was speaking to Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio 87.5FM on the renewed call by some individuals to have marijuana legalized.
In his view, if we should legalize wee in Ghana, we will not be able to manage the crisis that may face the nation.
Ghana he lamented may record 70 percent of drug related mental illnesses should marijuana be legalized as suggested by some advocates.
Although he admitted there are benefits derived from marijuana, people abuse the drug, he added.
He reiterated that, Ghana may reach a point where 70 percent of mental health cases recorded in the country may be as a result of abuse of marijuana, and so I am against its legalization.
Countries like Uruguay, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have legalize marijuana for its great value to the socio-economic fabric of these countries, Ghana still sees it as an illegal product which when caught, one could face a jail term of 10 years or more.
Seasoned journalist Kwesi Pratt, radio Presenters like Abeiku Santana and Blakk Rasta among others have all called on the Government of Ghana to take a second look at marijuana.
To Kwesi Pratt, Ghana will import wee in 20 years' time if it is not legalized saying "we've seen that it’s useful in the drug market. It is good for hair creams. It is good for body creams and so forth. Why are we not legalizing it? But we’re still using the Police to arrest wee farmers when the real criminals go scot free".
But the renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Osei says the advocacy is needless and should be disregarded.
Last year, a large review from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine assessed more than 10,000 scientific studies on the medical benefits and adverse effects of marijuana.
In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a medication containing cannabidiol (CBD) to treat two rare, severe, and specific types of epilepsy — called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome — that are difficult to control with other types of medication.
This CBD-based drug is known as Epidiolex. In 2017, Ghana was ranked as the leading user of Marijuana in Africa and third in the world according to latest United Nations (UN) reports on the use of the illicit drugs in the world.
The UN world report on drug use also revealed that about 22 percent of Ghanaians of School going age are engaged in drug abuse a situation she described as worrying.
The global rise in the number of cannabis (in all forms) users to appear to have increased by roughly 16 per cent in the decade ending 2016, which the report says is in line with the increase in the world population.
192 million people across the globe admitted to using the drug at least once in the past year.
A global estimate by UNODC, based on available data from 130 countries, suggests that in 2016 13.8 million young people (mostly students) aged 15–16 years used cannabis at least once over the previous 12 months, equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the population in this age range.
The availability of medical cannabis and the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in many jurisdictions in North America, the report notes may have contributed to the 27 percent decline in the seizure of cannabis herb globally, which was 4,386 tons in 2016.
Of the 8,607 tons of drugs seized in 2016, cannabis in all its forms contributed 6,313 tons representing 73.35 per cent of all drugs seized in the year under review.
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