Akrasi Sarpong educates law enforcers on New Narcotics Control Act

Akrasi Sarpong educates law enforcers on New Narcotics Control Act

Mr Sarpong with officers at workshop

Though change is good and must be encouraged in all aspects of life, it becomes meaningless when those entrusted with implementing it fail to do the right thing, thereby making it useless.

To ensure that the right policies are carried out in the country’s amended laws, the law enforce­ment agents in the country have been urged to be very cautious in dealing with people who use drugs for personal gain in view of the new narcotics law of the country.

According to Mr. Yaw AkrasiSar­pong, a former boss of the Nar­cotics Control Board (NACOB), who made the call, “the new drugs law of the country treats drug use and dependence as a public health issue rather than focusing on enforce­ment, incarceration, punishment, and repression.”

He told the law enforcement agencies “not to focus so much on arrests, prosecutions, and sen­tencing of persons using drugs for personal interest.”

Mr. Sarpong was addressing police prosecutors and detectives at a training workshop on ensuring the effective implementation of the Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020, Act 1019.

It was organised by the Perfector of Sentiment (POS) Foundation,a human rights civil society organisa­tion that focuses its activities in the areas of access to justice, human rights,policy reform, youth develop­ment, and social accountability.

Under the theme, “Understanding the Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020, Act 1019: The Role of Law Enforcement and Prosecutors in Health, Rights-based Best Practices for Handling People Who Use Drugs in the Implementation of the Act.”

The new law was passed on March 20, 2020, and assented to by the President, Nana AddoDank­waAkufo-Addo, on May 11, 2020, which is an update on PNDC Law 236 promulgated in 1990.

Mr. Sarpong explained that people who use drugs rather need help “as it is a public health issue just like someone suffering from malaria or an ulcer.”

He questioned why the law should imprison someone for the possession of weed (or ‘wee’) for personal use and later spend taxpayer money to take care of the person in jail.

He stressed the importance for law enforcement agencies and pros­ecutors to be abreast of the law and know their roles in its delivery.

“I am not encouraging people to use drugs or weed; it can be ad­dictive, but let us differentiate between private life and public safety,” he indicated.

Mentioning that the new law allows someone to possess a certain quantity of weed for daily use, he said, “the police are usually the first point of contact; their role in the safety and security of citizens is very important, hence the need to ensure proper implementation of the new law within the spirit that it is intended.”

The Executive Director of POS, Jonathan Osei-Wusu, on his part, also noted that drug use was a pub­lic health and human rights issue and described it as a “substance use disorder.”

He said, “it has been tested and proven all over the world that substance use disorder is not an issue of criminality where people are to be sentenced but rather need help.”

He pointed out that rehabilita­tion had been provided under the new state law to help such people reform.

The Executive Director further ar­gued against sentencing people who use drugs for relaxation when they have not killed anyone or caused any violence.

He indicated that if such people were sentenced for smoking the substance, “they come out hard­ened and more problematic for society.”

Ms. Maria-GorettiAneLoglo, with the International Drug Policy Con­sortium, said Ghana has become an example for many West African states in reviewing its drug policies.

And there was the need to take further steps in the implementation of the law “so that we get it all right for others to follow.”

From Kingsley E. Hope, Kumasi

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