Marijuana users must be rehabilitated not jailed – NACOB boss
The Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Yaw Akrasi Sarpong believes a lenient paradigm shift is needed in the approach of law enforcement to crimes involving marijuana.
Mr. Sarpong described as a waste of money and an “onslaught on conscience” the fact that people are arrested for possession of marijuana.
The NACOB boss is not stranger to more left-field approaches to the substance as he previously called for a national debate on the legalization of marijuana in Ghana.
Addressing the media on Friday, he acknowledged that marijuana was a major problem in Africa but held that the response to this scourge by society was “completely misunderstood.”
The NACOB boss bemoaned the stigmatization of marijuana asking: “What is so sinful about a young man who is unfortunately involved in problematic substance use… what is the difference between him and someone who is an alcoholic?”
He was adamant the laws concerning Marijuana enforcement had to change and called for a reform and national debate in Ghana's approach to the substance.
“Why is that we are spending so much money on people who smoke one roll and remanding them in prison. That is an onslaught on conscience… Sometimes they don't do it because they are bad. They do it because of peer pressure.”
Emphasis on rehabilitation
A more tailored approach to dealing with drug addicts because according to Mr. Sarpong because “addiction is a disease. It is not a sin and if it is disease, it must be treated like malaria. It is not the criminal justice system that deals with it. That is our view.”
He also shared the way forward as far as his vision in the enforcement of marijuana was concerned.
“When we engaged the MPs, our position was this; first time user, warn the person, an administrative warning. It must be recorded. You must sit him down and let him understand the consequences. What is the essence of arresting him if you don't let him know the consequences?”
“The second time, warn him again. The third time fine him, an administrative fine, very meagre – GHc50. But the fourth time, it means that there is likely to be a problem, divert him to a drug treatment centre.”
By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana