Cannabis: a new medical haven or not

The United Kingdom has moved from the scare of reviewing their drug policies in terms of medical marijuana from 1st November this year. The United Kingdom, which comprises four countries – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – is a constitutional monarchy comprising much of the British Isles.

Earlier this year, many countries in both Africa and Europe were called on by civil society organisations, youth groups, researchers and faith-based organisations etc. to change the narrative on the inhumane drug policy being unleashed on perceived problematic drug users.

Countries like the USA, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Jamaica, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium have all turned to medical marijuana.

Background and Countries with medical marijuana

On October 17, 2018, Canada legalized recreational marijuana in full. Growers of marijuana or weed have been given the necessary licence by the federal government to grow marijuana; individual provinces will determine how the product gets distributed and sold, and it will not be heavily advertised. The attitude here is that the government of Canada will sign-off on the marijuana but not promote it on any media platforms for sale in the country.

In Mexico, the situation is slightly different as private, personal use of recreational marijuana in amounts of 5 grams or less is decriminalised – meaning no jail time. It’s still illegal to cultivate and sell marijuana, however, and there has been a recent wave of momentum behind legalisation as a means of defusing drug violence.

While weed has been legal to smoke in coffee shops in the Netherlands for decades, it’s been illegal to grow it. But in 2017, a bill to partially legalise marijuana cultivation showed that the country may hopefully be headed for full legalisation very soon – maybe in early 2018 or 2019.

Belize on the other hand legalised marijuana in late 2017: the government of Belize decriminalised the use of cannabis in amounts up to 10 grammes, which permits individuals to use it in their homes, or someone else’s, with explicit permission from the appropriate bodies. In March 2017, Argentina laid claim to the title of First Woke Country to Provide Medical Marijuana For Free – which provided an avenue for recreational use.

In Africa, South Africa has taken the bold step to legalise the use of Marijuana. In September this year, South Africa’s constitutional court ruled that the private use of marijuana must be legal in the country. According to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo: “It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption”. He added that the previous law banning the use of marijuana was “unconstitutional and therefore invalid”, in the South African Law.

In the United Kingdom, The Home secretary commissioned the review after the cannabis-based medicine of Billy Caldwell, 12, who had life-threatening epileptic seizures, was confiscated at Heathrow Airport on June 11. The boy who could have seizures for hours had marijuana being administered to him – and that was the end of his long-suffering life situation. The case was publicised in the British news media and prompted a national discussion on the legalisation of medicinal cannabis products.

The primary question is: is Cannabis, also known as Marijuana, a new health haven or just chaff that will stay for a while and later be blown away by the wind?

In Ghana, the discussion has been totally different despite lots of research and stories to prove marijuana’s health potency.  The culture, perception or maybe the religious background of the nation has prevented individuals as well as government from having honest discussions on the subject matter. The bill in parliament which seeks to address this situation is yet to be discussed further in parliament, to determine if Ghana as a country is ready to join the medical/recreational world of Marijuana.

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