Ghana has been cited as the number one consumer of marijuana in the world, a United Nations’ Report last year has revealed.
Whilst the report cited Ghana as being the topmost consumer of marijuana, the three Regions of the north have also been cited as being the highest in terms of marijuana consumption in Ghana.
Speaking at a ceremony organized to mark this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking in Wa, Issahaque Bakuri, Upper West Regional Director of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), said the three northern regions propelled Ghana to that “dishonorable top”.
The day was on the theme: “Let us develop our lives, our communities, and our identities without drugs”. Mr. Bakuri in his address said it was worrying that the three regions which had been noted to be poverty endemic could lead in marijuana consumption. According to him, the issue of drugs had become a canker not only in the urban centres, but also in the rural communities.
He indicated that some youth had found solace in bringing hard drugs into the communities for local distribution thereby cultivating local consumers. The NACOB Regional Director said a lot of teenagers, young adults and middle-aged men in the society were not only using drugs, but were also trafficking the drugs from down south to the rural communities for local consumption.
“This trend is having a dramatic, negative impact on society, bringing increases in violent crimes and armed highway robbery, kidnapping and raping of innocent girls including school pupils, fatal road accidents, eroding of values and degradation of society”, he noted. Mr. Bakuri said the most challenging part of drug law enforcement in the region was in the area of prosecution of drug offenders.
He explained that NACOB embarked on a massive sensitization campaign in the region, visiting schools, communities, lorry stations and market places among others, to educate people on the dangers associated with drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking in 2014.
The NACOB Regional Director called for a sectoral approach to fight drug menace in the region. Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, Upper West Regional Minister, said government was aware that illicit drug trade had resulted in increased violence, especially in the urban areas.
In a speech read on his behalf, he appealed to the people not to stigmatize drug addicts, but rather see them as people who needed help.