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Promoting Harm Reduction: The Case for Decriminalising Drug Use in Ghana

The International Drug Policy Consortium's (IDPC) "Support. Don't Punish" campaign initiative has been a crucial source of information and funding for drug policy reform and harm reduction activists around the world for the past decade.


This campaign is annually promoted during the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and the Illicit Drug Trade, also known as World Drug Day. In the spirit of not waiting for the proverbial 'window of opportunity' to appear but creating the conditions to push it wide open!


Ahead of this year's Global Day of Action (June 26th, 2023), we have another opportunity to organise in transnational solidarity and build a sustainable alternative to the "war on drugs" by reclaiming power and rights for our communities, nurturing our growing movement for drug policy reform, and demanding accountability and redress from duty bearers.


This campaign aims to identify weak drug control regimes and highlight the need for human rights and public health-focused policy reform; promote decriminalisation of drug use and possession for personal use; and ensure adequate funding for drug treatment, rehabilitation, and harm reduction practices, among other things.


Ghana is the first West African country to revise its drug control legislation, the Narcotics Control Act 2020 (Act 1019), in accordance with human rights and public health principles. While the new law does not legalise or decriminalise drug use, it does provide alternatives to incarceration and legitimise harm reduction programmes. However, there are numerous challenges and misconceptions surrounding the legislation's passage, including the widely held belief that drug usage is legal in Ghana, which explains the significant public indifference to the new law.


Therefore, the WADPN office in Accra, Ghana, plans to use this year's Global Day of Action to help dispel some of these misconceptions by displaying and disseminating succinct messages during a street parade through the streets of Accra as follows:


When: Monday, 26 June 2023

Where: Accra, Ghana

Time: 9:00 am – 11:30 am GMT


It is hoped that by holding this procession, people's understanding of the new law and its provisions, as well as their concern for the health and safety of people who use drugs, and their appreciation for harm reduction, will all improve.


Diverse campaign actions will be held in honour of the "Support. Don't punish" campaign by numerous organisations and activists throughout the world, all with the common objective of addressing the harm brought on by the "war on drugs."


The time to #ReclaimPeoplePower is NOW! Join us in celebrating the Global Day of Action and stand up against the "war on drugs". Let's create sustainable alternatives to address the root causes of the war on drugs and end this injustice together. Therefore, we are calling all passionate advocates to join us in creating a future beyond prohibition.


Help us create positive change by sharing an individual or group photo with Support. Don't Punish posters/cards using the hashtag #SupportDontPunish, across all social media platforms!


We are all connected, so together, we can make a difference. It's time to act and demand justice for our community.


To join the Accra event, kindly contact us via WhatsApp, call +233549618023 or mail us at info@wadpn.org, & cc metteh@wadpn.org.


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