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  • Writer's pictureWADPN

Civil Society Engage Religious Leaders on Drug Policy Reform in Ghana

The global war on drugs has not worked in curbing the drug problem. In Ghana, control measures by the authorities have over the years focused on criminalisation through heavy custodial sentences or fines with the clear objective of deterrence anddoes not focus on treatment. Also, there is a strong social stigma among the populace associated with the use or possession of drugs.

In response to that, the West Africa Drug Policy Network – Ghana Chapter has been engaging lawmakers and a key government official on the need to enact a new law that protects the rights of people who use drugs including to right to life and health. Thanks to their incessant call for drug policy reform, the new Narcotic Commission bill currently before parliament for consideration and approval seeks to among other things, decriminalise drug addiction and use.

Notwithstanding that achievement, the Network believes that only laws will not stop the stigmatisation of people who use drugs,  but also a change of attitude from the populace toward people who use drugs and so have been using a bottom-up approach to achieve its goals.

To this end, the Network organised a one day’s workshop program on the theme “Problematic drug use: Discussing the moral, biological, social implications and the need for policy reform” on Thursday 3rd November 2016 for the various religious denomination leaders in Accra. 

The overall objective of the workshop was to build the capacity of religious leaders on drug -related problems so that they could carry out sensitisation based on scientific evidence and principles of human rights, public health, development, human security and social inclusion.

The workshop attracted more 25 religious leaders from various denominations to educate them on the generalities of the drug-related issues in the country and the messages about current drug policies so that they can contribute in diverse ways to shaping Ghana’s drug policy reforms.

The workshop provided a better understanding of the religious leaders on the adverse effects of stigma on people who use drugs and also why drug addiction is a health issue rather than a crime. 

At the end of the workshop, the religious leaders unanimously vowed to spread the message in their various denominations and committed to calling for drug policy that is evidence-based and focused on treating problematic drug users and non-criminal users with compassion and love. They also commended the Network for their work in the country and promised to work closely with the network.



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