A lawyer, Edudzi Tamakloe, has expressed hope that the passage of the Narcotics Control Commission Amendment Bill 2023, by parliament will not affect food production in the country.
According to him, despite the fact that the move might prove economically viable for the country, it must be assessed more holistically. He indicated that the benefit is that it will not immediately destroy the environment but the danger lies in its possible impact on food crop production.
“… Even now there’s a huge matter within the Gyaesekan area where an investor is alleged to have purchased large tracks of land and paying very little. But my prayer is that ultimately, this does not affect food crop production because there’s always a tendency for people to cede out. Even in the galamsey communities, it will be shocking that cocoa farms are now being given away for galamsey mining activities. These are potential risks we should all be looking forward to.”Edudzi Tamakloe
Furthermore, Mr Tamakloe explained that he is aware of a lot of businessmen who are today buying large portions of land in many parts of the country in readiness to grow cannabis.
He stated that almost thirteen countries now have allowed for industrial marijuana to be grown on large scale and the global cannabis market is in excess of almost $100 billion. With this, he noted that Ghana “can appropriate for ourselves that $3 billion” from industrial production of cannabis.
“So, when the Supreme Court decision came, there’s been some serious advocates within that sphere. We’ve come to the point where the only thing the Supreme Court did was to say that there was a particular procedure for the making of legislation… So, the lack of it, that procedural challenge that is why they declared the law unconstitutional. At that point, I had a bit of a challenge with that position in the sense that parliament should have the opportunity to regulate a few of its own internal matters…”Edudzi Tamakloe
Ensuring compliance to regulation on cannabis usage
On the issue of compliance Mr Edudzi highlighted that there’s legitimate fear as to who is going to be in the various cannabis farms to ensure that the type that will be grown in the various communities are really what the law allows.
In light of this, he stated that even in terms of pricing, the recreational ones will be more expensive, as such, there’s a high possibility that people will want to mix both the industrial and recreational cannabis on the same farms.
“I strongly believe that these regulatory issues can be looked at. Even at the Supreme Court level, the Supreme Court in invalidating that particular provision did not do that on policy grounds that cannabis is a harmful thing. They only did that on the basis of procedural lapses. It’s a different matter had the Supreme Court said that because this substance is harmful, we are proscribing it… The Supreme Court quite clearly, made the indication that the only reason for invalidating the law is that parliament ought to have done some things and there was a failure, and that failure should lead to the invalidation of the law…”Edudzi Tamakloe
It will be recalled that Parliament passed the Narcotics Control Commission Amendment Bill 2023, on July 12, 2023, bringing significant changes to the cultivation of cannabis for industrial and medicinal purposes.
The amended bill grants the Ministry of Interior the authority to issue licenses for the cultivation of cannabis, thereby enabling the utilization of this plant for various beneficial applications.
The passage comes after the Supreme Court invalidated provisions within the Narcotic Control Commission Act that permitted the cultivation of specific types of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes.
The court contended that these provisions contravened Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution. Despite an appeal filed by the Office of the Attorney-General, the Supreme Court dismissed the review application in a narrow 5-4 decision.