Parliament has clarified that it did not pass the Narcotics Control Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2023 to legalise recreational use of cannabis, also known as ‘wee’.
According to Parliament, it is still illegal to cultivate wee in Ghana for any other purposes, apart from industrial and medicinal, adding that the legal wee should have only 0.3% THC on a dry weight.
During parliamentary proceedings on Thursday, July 27, 2023 the Speaker addressed what he described as misinterpretation and miscommunication of the Bill recently passed in parliament.
“It is imperative to understand and underline that the intention of this provision is not to endorse or legalise the recreational use or smoking of cannabis. We must dispel any such misinterpretation,” he insisted.
He described the current trend of miscommunication on the passage of the Bill as “troubling,” adding that a lot of people are on the streets, telling their colleagues that Parliament had legalised the use of wee. “We have not done such a thing,” he added.
The Speaker, concluding his address, reiterated that the cultivation, manufacture, processing, production, sale, distribution or use of narcotic plants, including marijuana or synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs, without lawful authority “remains an offence.”
He called on the security agencies to investigate, prosecute and commit offenders to the sanctions of the law.
With the House nearing recess, he encouraged members of the House to convey the message to their constituents to dispel misinformation and foster an informed dialogue on the matter.
SEED NOT IN GHANA
In his initial statement, the Speaker emphasised Section 43 of Act 1019, which empowers the Minister for the Interior to grant a license for the cultivation of 0.3% THC wee.
According to the Speaker, Ghana has not commenced cultivation of the said wee, as he has been informed that the seed is not yet in the country.
“And so, we are yet to commence its cultivation. And through it, you can extract fibre, apart from using it for medicine”.
CLEAR IN MIND
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, emphasized that the consideration was on the chemical content of the cannabis, which is 0.3% THC.
According to him, the wee grown in Ghana has around 3.5% THC to 5.2% THC content, adding that it would have been injurious to the health of users and that Parliament was clear in its mind in passing the bill.
He opined, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that initially struck out Section 43 of Act 1019, which triggered the amendment that was passed recently.
“The ruling from the court that Parliament did not subject that matter to a debate and struck it down, to me, is very unfortunate,” he asserted.
Reading Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution, which talks about debate on a bill, which the court relied on, he argued, that provision relates to the second reading of the bill and not the clause-by-clause consideration.
He thought there was some mix-up, adding that “clearly the presiding judge got it wrong,” but he advocated for collaboration with justices on the passage of bills to ensure a level of understanding about the work of the Legislature.
NOT FIRST TIME
The Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Kwame Governs Agbodza, indicated that it was not the first time a law had been passed and a section of the public misinterpreted or misunderstood it, and thus sided with the call from the majority leader for close working engagement with the justices.
He insisted that nobody in Ghana had legalised smoking marijuana and cautioned the public against the temptation of using the drug illegally.
However, he raised concerns about the monitoring of the cultivation of weed, adding that the monitoring of illegal cultivation had been abysmal.
The Adaklu MP further pointed out how wee could salvage the nation from its economic quagmire, given that cocoa, for instance, could not save the nation.
“Mr. Speaker, we have been growing cocoa and coffee; we have been mining gold, diamonds, bauxite, or whatever in this country.
“We didn’t manage to get ourselves out of an economic quagmire. I doubt, Mr. Speaker, if the cultivation of wee is going to be the saviour of our economy,” he said.