Marijuana or ‘wee’ is a psychoactive drug that is illegal to cultivate, distribute and consume in Ghana. Yet it is easily available to those who care to use it.
According to experts, it contains the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which psychiatrists have identified as a major cause of mental illness or madness in those who use wee.
Several researches over the years have revealed that marijuana is so easily accessible that its use has become widespread, even among the youth and students for that matter. One can imagine therefore the harm we would to causing to a critical section of our population should the cultivation and use of the plant is legalised.
It is against this background that the recent call made by the Head of the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), Professor Alexander Nii Oto Dodoo for a national debate on the use of marijuana in the country continues to raise eyebrows. There have also been contrary discussions pointing to the fact that the plant has a lot of medicinal and health benefits and therefore supporting the call to legalise its cultivation.
Like every issue, arguments for and against are always raised, all sides propounding seemingly convincing points to push their arguments. In the case of the call for the legalization of marijuana therefore, we need to tread carefully and not rush to take decisions that we may regret as a country in future.
We have had experts telling us on a number of occasions that a lot of the mental conditions reported at our psychiatric clinics have been linked to the use of marijuana.
According to the Chief Psychiatrist at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Akwasi Osei for example, about 30 per cent of outpatients’ visits to the hospital each year are marijuana-related.
As explained by the doctor, Ghana’s marijuana is highly potent and has the likelihood to affect the mental faculties of users. Such users may turn into aggressive social misfits and eventually end up in mental institutions.
It is for this reason that Today agrees with the Chief Psychiatrist whose position on the debate is that just because other nations have legalised marijuana use does not mean that Ghana should also follow suit. Some of these countries, we are told, are already seeing the negative effects of their decision to legalise the use of marijuana.
We must bide our time in following some of these trends. After all, what is suitable for certain cultures may not necessarily work in our culture. Let’s not follow blindly and hit a stone wall. We should use every opportunity, time and space, to inform and educate in order to disabuse the minds of users and potential users of the drug. For all one knows, some of those who have fallen victim went into the drug purely due to peer pressure and out ignorance.
Today, would therefore like to appeal to influencers like actors and musicians who have a big following by the youth, to desist from glorifying marijuana or any other drug in their songs and performances.
Likewise, we also call on religious and social groups to help educate their members and all others, especially the youth, to desist from using marijuana and, indeed, all harmful drugs in order not to destroy their lives and the future of the country.
We cannot afford to unleash this lethal drug on our youth, who may be swayed by its ecstatic nature and get addicted to it.
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