Ghana has initiated processes to legalise the farming or cultivation of Indian hemp (weed) under license.
In 2020, some countries in Africa, through their national legislations, decided to permit the cultivation and export of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, with some other countries authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Ghana, having passed the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) joined these African countries in exploring the purported prospects in cannabis.
The Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019), which was passed by Parliament on March 20, 2020, and assented to by the President on May 11, 2020, has enshrined special provisions relating to cannabis.
Section 43 of Act 1019 states that, “the Minister, on the recommendation of the Commission, may grant a licence for the cultivation of cannabis which has not more than 0.3% THC content on a dry weight basis for industrial purposes for obtaining fibre or seed or for medicinal purposes.”
Currently in Ghana, the Narcotics Control Commission is in the process of submitting to Parliament a Legislative Instrument (LI) that will spell out in details how one can qualify for a licence to cultivate cannabis with less than 0.3% of THC and applicable fees to pay for the issuance of such licence.
The Head of Communications and Media Relations at the Narcotics Control Commission, Francis Opoku Amoah made this known.
International Narcotics Control Board
According to the 2020 International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Report, in August 2020, the government of South Africa submitted to the Parliament the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill of 2020, amending its Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act (1992) to allow the cultivation and use of cannabis by adults for personal use.
In the same INCB Report, the Parliament of Malawi approved the Cannabis Regulation Bill of 2020, in February 2020, permitting the cultivation of cannabis for medical, industrial and scientific purposes.
Uganda also reported to INCB that, it had begun permitting the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes.
Obligation on governments
Though some countries are permitting the cultivation of cannabis, according to the INCB there is an obligation on the part of governments that permit the cultivation of cannabis to establish control measures in accordance with the 1961 Convention as amended. Such measures include the establishment of an agency responsible for designating areas and issuing licences for cultivation.
The countries that are permitting the cultivation of cannabis are performing this obligation.
In Malawi, their Bill also establishes a national cannabis agency to issue licences to cultivate cannabis and regulate the industry within Malawi.
The government of Uganda, had also drafted guidelines to assist the Minister of Health in determining which cultivators should be granted licences to cultivate cannabis.
“I know that the Commission is working hard to make sure that, it presents a solid Legislative Instrument that will reflect how the hemp industry will be regulated in the country,” Mr Amoah explained.
“I am well aware of the interest generated by the special provision relating to cultivation of Cannabis which has not more than 0.3% THC content on a dry weight basis for industrial purposes for obtaining fibre or seed or for medicinal purposes in the country. So many groups, companies and individuals have applied to the Commission for licence in order to legally engage in the cultivation of this species of cannabis when the LI is passed by Parliament,” Mr Amoah added.
Interested person(s) have argued that, the emerging industry can provide employment and generate enormous revenue for the government.
Cannabis still illegal
The special provision relating to cannabis in section 43 of Act 1019 does NOT in any way constitute the LEGALIZATION or DECRIMINALIZATION of cannabis cultivation and/or use. As such, the cultivation, production, distribution, sale and consumption of cannabis remain prohibited by law.
The Commission further reiterates and herein inform the general public that, it has not issued licence to any entity, individual or group of individuals to cultivate cannabis or conduct any business related to cannabis. The public should therefore refrain from making payments to any entity, individual or group of individuals for purposes of engaging in any business related to cannabis.
That, the Commission will make it public the modalities for the issuance of licence for the conduct of business relating to cannabis, once the LI is passed by Parliament.