Treat Drug Addiction As Public Health Issue’

The Participants 

The former Executive Director of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Dr. Yaw Akrasi Sarpong has called on law enforcement agencies to treat drug use as a public health issue rather than focusing on incarcerating or purnishing the users.

He said those addicted to drugs might need medical attention, just like when anyone who contracts a disease would go to hospital for treatment.

To this end, he supported the decriminalization of drug use as he argued that there are numerous medical benefits.

He explained that he is not calling for the legalization of drug use in Ghana but it’s decriminalizing.

“If a person becomes a remand prisoner on drug charges for just possession does the police think about the person’s health and human rights?” he asked.

“So what the new Narcotics law seeks to do is to ensure that the human rights and health of persons on drug charges for only possession, would not be undermined”, he added

The former NACOB boss was speaking at a day’s workshop on the Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020 (Act 1019) in Takoradi.

It was organised by the POS Foundation, a civil society organisation, in partnership with the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), and the West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN), with support from the Open Society Foundation.

Participants were drawn from the Ghana Police Service, the Attorney-General’s Department (A-G) and other narcotic prevention related agencies.

The Act 1019 was passed by Parliament on March 20, 2020 , and officially became law after it was assented to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on May 11, 2020.

It is to help in reducing the demand and use of narcotic drugs through education, treatment and rehabilitation of persons with substance use disorders.

Jonathan Osei Owusu, Executive Director-POS Foundation explained that the passage of Act 1019 had enabled Ghana to join the global community to tackle narcotic abuse as a public health issue and not a crime.

During the open forum, the participants called for more in-service training on the new law so that they would be abreast with it and apply in the discharge of their duries.

From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi