The Deputy Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Mr Michael Addo, has called for the decriminalisation of narcotic drug use
Speaking to the Daily Graphic after the opening of the fifth West Africa short course on human rights and drug policy in Accra yesterday, Mr Addo said the major challenge confronting NACOB was the criminal aspect of the use of narcotic drugs.
He stated that the country was wasting human resource through the jailing of able-bodied beings for using narcotic drugs and accordingly called for other sources of punishment besides custodial sentences for such persons.
Rather, Mr Addo called for the strengthening of rehabilitation centres to treat drug addicts in order to integrate them into the society.
He stated that for some strange reason, persons who were imprisoned for using drugs still had access to them and thus ended up coming out of prison as hardened criminals.
He expressed the hope that the discussions at the forum would help the NACOB review its policies to further fight the narcotic drug trade.
The Programme Coordinator, Dr Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, said the workshop was aimed at giving new understanding and perspectives on the drug problem in West Africa.
He reiterated that the criminalisation of drug use had not worked for the past century and for that reason, it was important for a paradigm shift.
The current method of fighting drugs has resulted in an increase in the transit of drugs, hence the need for dialogue on the way forward, he emphasised.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua added that the problem in the fight against drugs gave birth to the programme which began five years ago.
The six-day programme brought together lawyers, prosecutors, officials from drug enforcement agencies, psychologists, students and civil society organisations from Anglophone West African countries, including The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria.
Issues to be discussed at the workshop include international/regional approaches to drug control, a review of the impact of drug use on the psychological state of users, gender dimension of drug law, human rights and drug policy formulation, national drug policies in West Africa, implementation of liberal drug policies and other drug and human rights-related topics.