Is Weed Legal in Ghana?

Is Weed Legal in Ghana?

In March 2020, Ghana’s parliament passed the Narcotics Control Commission Bill, which allowed for the use and cultivation of cannabis, specifically hemp, for medical and industrial purposes. This legislation stipulated that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in the plants must be below 0.3%, aligning with the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill’s legal threshold for hemp cultivation. The non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD), believed to have health benefits, can still be extracted from hemp. However, the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal in Ghana.

Goals of Legalizing Hemp in Ghana

Nana Kwaku Agyemang, president of the Hemp Association of Ghana, states that the goal of legalizing hemp is not to promote drug use but to support various industries, and environmental cleanup initiatives, generate new revenue through taxation of cultivation and exports, and explore medicinal applications that offer advantages over opioids.

The Surprising Supreme Court Decision of 2022

On July 27, 2022, the Supreme Court of Ghana issued a narrow ruling concerning a case challenging the constitutionality of section 43 of the Narcotics Control Commission Act, which pertained to the issuance of licenses for the cultivation of medical cannabis. This ruling was unexpected, given that the Act had recently legalized the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes in 2020, effectively replacing the previous Narcotics Drugs Act of 1990.

Court Overturns Cannabis Legalization for a Second Time in 2023

In May 2023, the Supreme Court overturned the legalization of cannabis for the second time, with a majority decision of 5-4, affirming its stance that the law permitting the cultivation of cannabis in Ghana was unconstitutionally passed by Parliament.

Justice Dotse, the presiding judge, stated that the party seeking to review the judgment had not met the required threshold.

Previously, in July 2022, the court invalidated Section 43 of the Narcotics Control Commission Act, Act 1019. This section allowed the Minister, based on the Commission’s recommendation, to grant licenses for the cultivation of cannabis (commonly called “wee” in Ghana) containing less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. These licenses were intended for industrial purposes, such as obtaining fiber or seed for medicinal use. However, in a majority decision of 4-3, the Supreme Court nullified this provision, citing a violation of Article 106 of the 1992 constitution.

Cannabis Use Remains Prevalent in Ghana

Despite these legal developments, cannabis continues to be the illicit drug of choice in Ghana. The country has the highest rate of cannabis use in Africa and ranks third globally. In the 1990s, cannabis use expanded beyond urban areas and became prevalent in rural regions. It became closely associated with the Rastafari culture and students who believed that using cannabis could enhance their study abilities.

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