Speaker of Parliament, Alban S. K. Bagbin, has disclosed that the amendment to the Narcotics Control Commission Act (Act 1019) passed by Parliament in 2020 has not legalised the smoking of cannabis.
He said the recent amendment was meant to re-establish the Interior Minister’s discretionary powers to give licences for the cultivation of a certain strain of cannabis for industrial and medical purposes, after the legal challenge of Section 43 of the law.
He explained that the intent of these licences, as clearly expressed by sub-section 2 of Section 43, is not extended to the cultivation of cannabis intended for recreational usage.
“The Supreme Court in its wisdom declared Section 43 to be unconstitutional, citing a failure to adhere to Article 106 of the Constitution during the enactment of the provision.
“The intention of this position is not to endorse or legalise the recreational use or smoking of cannabis,” the Speaker stressed, adding, “We must dispel any such interpretation.”
“The provision designed is to strike a prudent balance between the harnessing of industrial and medical potentials of certain TAC cannabis strains and maintaining our robust control of narcotics to ensure the safety and well-being of our society,” he asserted.
According to him, it appears there is a significant misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the nature and intent of recent legislative changes.
“The subject at hand has its origin in the Narcotics Control Commission Act passed by Parliament in 2020 (Act 1019) which served to modernise and strengthen our country’s approach to narcotics control.
“This legislation, as noted in the memorandum to the bill, was borne out of diligent research, extensive consultation and careful consideration of our societal realities,” Mr. Bagbin indicated.
For him, recent reports, however, seem to have misunderstood or misrepresented sections of the Act, causing unnecessary confusion and alarm, especially in the light of the recent passage of the Narcotics Control Commission (Amendment) Bill 2023.
He explained that the Act was pivotal legislation which transformed the Narcotics Control Board into a commission.
“The primary intent behind this statute was to retrofit the then-existing Narcotics Control Board alongside addressing other associated matters. Our discourse today is Section 43 of the Act.
“This particular clause bestows upon the Minister of Interior the authority, subject to the Commission’s recommendations, to grant cultivation licences for cannabis.
“These licences, however, are specifically limited to cannabis with TAC content that did not exceed 0.3 percent on a dried weed basis,” he said.
He stated that the cultivation was to be geared toward industrial and medicinal purposes, adding, “We are yet to commence the cultivation of it and through it you can extract fibre, apart from using it for medicine.”
“There is a prohibition of unlawful cultivation, possession, and use of narcotics clearly outlined in Section 39-42 of this Act remain unaffected,” he pinned.