Editorial: Legalising cannabis and upsurge of usage in our schools
Last year, The Chronicle carried a story with the headline: “Legalising Wee in Ghana is dangerous, Stop it! Dr. Ruth Owusu-Antwi, the Head of the Psychiatry Unit of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) whose interview with the paper formed the basis for the headline had argued that it is ‘too risky’ to legalise the usage of cannabis for medicinal or industrial purposes in Ghana. She contended that regulation has always been a challenge, not only Ghana, but for several African countries, and that Ghana was not ready to legalise the medicinal usage of cannabis.
Asked if cannabis can hamper the development of the brain if someone is exposed to it at an early stage of the development of the brain, she said: “Yeah, there are a lot of research that have been done and proven that the active component in cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol or the THC, has a lot of negative effects on the brain or the psyche, especially in growing minds-brains that are still developing.”
Just last week Friday, a report by the Consultative Committee to Combat Drug Menace in Schools established that about 54.1% of boys in Junior High and Senior High schools use cannabis. According to the report published by myjoyonline.com, the survey, which was carried out by the Consultative Committee in 176 schools, stated that 59.9% of boys tend to use cigarettes more in schools.
When the fear expressed by Dr. Ruth Owusu-Antwi is juxtaposed with the latest report by the Consultative Committee to Combat Drug Menace in Schools, it tells a serious story that we have a problem at hand. If at the time that drug has not officially been legalised for medicinal purpose, research has established that 54.1% of children in schools are using it illegally, then one will wonder what would happen should it be legalised for medicinal purposes.
The situation could even be worse if the pharmaceutical companies after the legalisation decide not to import the cannabis, but promote its production in Ghana to cut down production cost. Though it is a justifiable argument, to say that the security agencies would ensure that producing farms of the cannabis are well protected, this cannot be hundred foolproof in our society.
This is the reason why The Chronicle thinks legalising cannabis, though for medicinal purpose, can be dangerous in the long run and must, therefore, be shelved because people would take advantage of it to abuse the substance. The Chronicle, however, urges parents to put their shoulders to the wheel and support whatever measurers the government is putting in place to fight the drug menace in our schools.
Students in the Junior High Schools are the future leaders of this country, and if, at this tender age they have resorted to the use of narcotic drugs, then the country has a future bleak. This is the reason why parents must take it upon themselves to educate their children and wards about the dangers of the drugs.
This education should not be the sole responsibility of the government alone, because the children spend a greater part of their formative lives with their parents.