The acting Executive Director of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Professor Alex Dodoo, says he supports the production of marijuana for export, since the herbs are used for medical purposes abroad.
Sharing his perspectives on the use of marijuana at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament at its sitting in Accra on Wednesday, Prof. Dodoo said the exportation of marijuana could generate revenue for Ghana.
He was at the PAC to answer questions on the operations of the GSA as captured in the 2015 Auditor General's Report.
However, he said the security agencies should ensure vigilance to avoid the diversion and abuse of the marijuana in the country.
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Answering questions on the standardisation of the production of locally produced beverages, Prof. Dodoo cautioned that much of the locally produced gin, ‘akpeteshie’, contained chemicals that were harmful to consumers.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South, Dr Clement Apaak, who posed the question, expressed concern that many youth in the Upper East Region lost their lives as a result of consuming akpeteshie.
Akpeteshie is an alcoholic spirit produced in Ghana by distilling palm wine or sugar cane juice. There are other names for akpeteshie, including Apio and VC10.
Prof. Dodoo said many producers had refused to produce the akpeteshie according to the standards set by the authority because they claimed that consumers preferred the original akpeteshie to the one standardised by the GSA.
He said consumers preferred the original akpeteshie because of its taste and pungent smell.
Prof. Dodoo said the GSA had standards for locally produced beverages, including akpeteshie.
He added that there were companies that came to the GSA for standardisation of locally produced gins but added that producers of akpeteshie who went to the GSA for standardisation opted out along the way because they claimed that the akpeteshie supervised by the authority tasted like gin but "not like the real thing."
He stated that one difficulty was that some of the producers complained that the fees for the testing and certification were too high.
Besides, he said, many producers of akpeteshie operated on a small scale; hence, they were not willing to come forward to test their gin.
No banning of akpeteshie
Prof. Dodoo said the GSA's mandate was to set the standards for beverages and other items, while the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) was clothed with the authority to enforce the standards.
Therefore, he said, the GSA would not consider banning the production of akpeteshie but would rather support the industry to remove the harmful chemicals from it.