Ghana’s parliament recently passed the narcotics bill, which would become law — after the president has appended his signature to it. This bill would among many other things, decriminalize cannabis cultivation. News of the act sparked some excitement and jubilation among a section of the populace, with some people misconstruing it with various misinterpretations.
This article is setting out to clarify what the narcotics bill means for the future of the hemp industry in Ghana, as well as how to avoid falling foul of the laws of the nation.
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Table of Contents
Cannabis and narcotics bill: The truth
In the minds of too many people, Ghana’s parliament has passed a law to legalize the recreational use (smoking and getting high) of marijuana. That is very far from the truth. In fact, the existing laws still hold, and anyone found flouting it would still be prosecuted as before.
The intended purpose
The bill is intended to make way for Ghana to exploit the medical marijuana industry — a multi-billion dollar industry. This would allow cultivation for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry to produce medicinal and beauty products as well as nutritional products.
Cannabis cultivation would require some licensing, and only a THC content of 0.3% would be considered legal.
Currently, the global cannabis market is estimated to be over $7 billion, and projections for the next five years expect the market size to triple to $30 billion. Aside the medicinal uses, hemp products are already being employed as cheaper alternatives to paper, cotton, used for car dashboards, among many others. The prospects are many, and as cannabis grows best in the tropics, this could become a major revenue earner for Ghana in the coming years if managed well.
For the Hemp Association of Ghana (HAG), business is already in motion as the organization has already signed a deal with a Portugal based Ghanaian-owned Cannabis business operator.
According to Nana Kwaku Agyemang, President of the association, for simply cultivating and exporting a 100 acres of industrial hemp, the deal would gross a $56 million in five years. That’s a lot.
“We seem to get lost in this issue of getting high, and all we can talk about as Ghanaians is smoking.” Nana Kwaku Agyemang
Speaking further, Nana Kwaku Agyemang reiterated that the Hemp Association of Ghana was not promoting the smoking and illicit use of the herb. “We are not promoting smoking; we are promoting the industry; we are promoting cleaning up the environment. We are promoting creating a new revenue stream for government in terms of taxing from cultivation and export and we are talking about promoting medicines that are far better than opioids, medicines that cannot kill you because no one has died from taking cannabis.”
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Ghana’s government could gross over $10 million in taxes from just 100 acres of industrial hemp. That is, however, dependent on the authorities evaluating and exploiting the industrial potential of the plant.
That aside, a cannabis industry would mean employment for the cultivators, to those who would be involved in the processing and preparing the produce for export (i.e., the factories and workers).
As noted earlier, all these possibilities depend on the president appending his signature to the bill — thereby passing it into law. After which, the Minister of Interior would go ahead and draw the regulations — with parliamentary approval — that would bind the industry.
Just so we are clear, parliament has not given approval for the recreational use of cannabis or marijuana. Even after the president assents to the bill and the regulations get passed, you would still fall foul of the law if you’re caught with weed.
There’s a lot to benefit from hemp, or cannabis, or marijuana. And it goes beyond the stereotypical ganja smoking.