Nana Bentsi Oduro. Ghanaian Times
4 August 2022, 09:00:00
Cannabis reform is set back as top judges say that law allowing cannabis cultivation for industrial and medicinal uses is against the West African country’s constitution
The Supreme Court in a 4-3 majority decision on Wednesday 27 July 2022, declared as unconstitutional a section of the Narcotic Control Commission Act, 2020 (1019) which permitted licence to be issued to an institution to cultivate a small amount of cannabis, widely known as 'wee' in Ghana for industrial and medicinal functions.
The majority decision of the seven-member panel formed by Justices Jones Dotse, Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu and Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi held that Section 43 of Act 1019 violated Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution, which details the processes a bill must undergo before it is passed into law by Parliament, and therefore, declared it invalid.
Justices Nene Amegatcher, Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu dissented.
Consequently, Section 43 of the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) was declared null and void and struck out as unconstitutional as it contravenes the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution, particularly Article 106 (2) (a) (b), (5) and (6) thereof," the court held.
The case was filed by one Ezuame Mannan against the Attorney-General.
Full details of the ruling was not immediately provided by the court but announced that the full details would be available at the court's registry by 11 August 2022.
Section 43 of Act 1019 stipulates that "the Minister on the recommendation of the Commission, may grant a licence for the cultivation of cannabis popularly referred to as "wee" in Ghana, which is not more than 0.3 per cent, the content on a dry weight basis for industrial purposes for obtaining fibre or seed for medicinal purposes."
Cultivation of Indian hemp locally called 'weed' has been authorised in Ghana but growers require a license.
This was after Ghana joined African countries such as Malawi, Zambia and South Africa in 2020 with the passage of the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) to explore the use of cannabis for scientific and medical use.
These African countries passed bills through their legislature to authorise the use of cannabis for the scientific and medicinal use.