Law students urged to guard against inimical drug policies, legislations

Accra, Jan. 30, GNA – Ghanaian Law students have been urged to help prevent drug policies, measures and legislations that work against the rehabilitation of substance abusers.

The students were asked to not only play roles in the prevention of the use and circulation of drugs (cocaine, marijuana, tramadol e.t.c) but also be critical of incarceration of abusers and lack of rehabilitation centres.

The call was made by drug policies and legislations advocates at a day’s hybrid workshop for tertiary students and faculty members in Ghana by POS Foundation on the theme: “Substance Use and Prevention: A Comparative Dialogue between Ghana and the USA’s Drug Policy.”

Participating universities were GIMPA Law School, Ghana, Adler University, Chicago, Illinois and Columbia University, New York and Fordham University, New York and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) with the students sharing their perspectives.

Jonathan Osei Owusu, Executive Director, POS Foundation, said drug users should be given a second chance in society if they had not committed any crime after using the drug, saying the law students had a responsibility to ensure a drug regulation system that prevented usage and reformed society.

“We have been fighting drugs for a very long time all over the world. The use has not gone down. There’s the need to sit back, make some assessment and reforms. It is better not to take abusers to prison but give them support,” he said.

Mr Owusu said the Narcotics Control Act, Act 1019, saw drug use and abuse as a public health concern and subsequently mandated the State to put up rehabilitation and treatment centres for problematic users (drug addicts) so they could come back to society as normal people.

“If the State fails in preventing the circulation of the drugs, why must the State jail these young people for using drugs it had failed to combat,” he said.

Madam Maria-Goretti Ane Loglo, Lawyer and IDPC Consultant for Africa, said the people languishing in jail because of drug use had been the younger population, a situation we had to avert because there had been lack of jobs to engage them.

“As a country we also need to revisit the fines given to offenders. The fines are very high and many of the people cannot afford. The State must resource the Fund to help in rehabilitation and put up rehabilitation centres that are accessible and less expensive,” she said.

Mr Sefa Kissi Ebenezer, President, GIMPA Law School Student Association, told the Ghana News Agency, that the seminar had been an eye opener and had enlightened them on how to provide assistance to end-users.

“We are coming up with a journal where students can publish articles on specific provisions of narcotics control law that do not promote the interest and development of substance abusers. We are ready to take the mantle,” he said