Young Girls in Cape Coast, many of them minors between the ages of ten and 14 years have resorted to the abuse of marijuana, a situation the Metropolitan Social Welfare Office has described as “a disturbing development”.
These girls are seen smoking the stuff with impunity and engage in all sorts of vices detrimental to their health and future development, Mr. Daniel Wallace Akyeampong, the Oguaa Metropolitan Social Welfare Officer noted.
Mr. Akyeampong made the revelation at a day’s workshop held in Cape Coast to create awareness, educate and also solicit the views of stakeholders on the drug policy reforms document currently at the Executive level and expected to be placed before Parliament soon.
The Document seeks to shift focus of marijuana use from being treated as a criminal act to a public health issue.
The policy reforms when put in place would help create access to effective evidence-based treatment for people struggling with marijuana addiction or substance use disorders and ensure wider prevention policies and programmes necessary to reduce addiction as well as social issues connected with it.
It was organized by POS Foundation, a human rights Advocacy and Development Civil Society Organisation in collaboration with the Cape Coast Metro Assembly on the theme “the fight against drug abuse (marijuana); preventive and public health approach”.
The visibly disturbed Social Welfare Officer, recounted how some of the girls were nearly trafficked out of the country sometime last week but were rescued by the Anti-Human trafficking Unit of the Police Service only to join their counterparts at home to smoke marijuana at the full glare of the public.
The Social Welfare Office was invited by the Regional Police Command to counsel the girls but had a shock of their lives when upon gaining their freedom; they joined their friends at Anaafo, a suburb of Cape Coast to smoke profusely.
Mr. Akyeampong therefore, stressed that the ample effects of the abuse of Marijuana on the youth must be largely considered instead of pushing for its legislation.
The stakeholders including Assembly Members, Civil Society Organisations, head of institutions and the Media, expressed concern about the development and called for stringent measures to curb the practice among the youth.
Mr. Eddie Dawson, Turom, Assemblyman advocated for more police swoops in his area to clear the many ghettoes where hard substances and social vices emanate from.
Earlier, the Executive Director of POS Foundation, Mr. Jonathan Osei Owusu had called for drug abuse to be made a public health issue instead of being criminalized, the building of more rehabilitation centres instead of prison and advocated for non-custodial sentences for drug addicts.
He indicated that institutional failures were the bane in the fight against drug abuse and stressed that addiction was a sickness and victims needed support and not stigmatization which tend to worsen their condition.
It behoves on Ghanaians to decide if the cultivation and use of marijuana which he noted had medicinal values that could be commercialized to generate income for the country, should he legalized or not, he added.