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The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Honorable Chernor Ramdan Maju Bah Stimulates Debate on Legalizing C



There is an ongoing debate in Sierra Leone on whether or not it’s time to legalize cannabis sativa in the country. Well, the Hon Chernor R M Bah, (aka Cherikoko) Deputy Speaker of parliament has stirred the debate again. Speaking at Committee Room No.1, parliament Building Tower Hill in Freetown, during  Pre-Legislative hearing on the 2017, Finance Bill, Hon Bah told the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) and the National Revenue Authority (NRA) Official that because the Western Government know they were losing from  the cannabis trade that is why they are legalizing it.

In his submission on the proposed tax increase in certain items like soft drinks, cigarettes, and imported alcoholic beverages, Hon Bah said that it will lead to revenue loss for the country as they will be subversively imported into the country with no tax records and benefit because smuggling or other unregulated means of transporting importing goods.  On the issues of cannabis that is widely cultivated and largely used in the country Cherikoko said”….. In the west we see what is happening today, they are trying to legalized cannabis because they are losing revenue, now they are seeing what they were doing before was wrong. They are now trying to legalize it so that they will not lose from the trade, but we are doing the reverse” The deputy Speaker when asked by a journalist if he supports the legalization of cannabis in Sierra Leone? His answers were not explicit but implicit.

The Deputy has ignited the debate again; there is different opinions on the cannabis sativa (diamba) issue in Sierra Leone, those in support of the Honorable Deputy Speaker recent submission. Those who support the argument are saying if Parliament is to implement it in the country, it will be a very good move. They noted it’s important in the medical field, especially as it doesn’t have any artificial chemicals or dangerous chemical like cocaine/heroine that are killing people on daily bases across the world. This school of thought is calling on critics of cannabis legalization to first educate themselves thoroughly on the scientific important of the herb.

On the side of the debate are those who totally opposed the Deputy Speaker and all campaigner for the legalization of cannabis, they opined that it will only increase the vulnerability of the youth in are already killing them themselves with cheap alcohol and Tramadol, and the increased in violence amongst them, if government should, therefore, legalized diamba-cannabis it compound the situation the more, thus insecurity in the country. Those from the religious point view out rightly condemned it, and say they will do everything within their powers to block it as they did with the “Abortion Act”.

Hope spring internal for the legalization of cannabis in Sierra Leon  and the reformation of our drug policy by campaigners, one popular journalist in the country of “The Burning Issues” fame in culture radio FM 104.5 in the capital city, Sahr Theophilus Gbenda ,who is  also member of the Rastafarian religion in the country argues that legalizing cannabis will bring control and regulation to the trade a part of it huge financial and judicial dividend, thereby, discouraging underground and under age use of cannabis throughout the country. He argues that jailing young people for being in possession of cannabis is morally wrong because it violates one’s fundamental rights and increasing the burden on the criminal justice sector. Sahr Theophilus Gbenda also told me that the recommendations the Rastafarian made to the constitutional committee are currently in Parliament for deliberation to be part of laws.  Yours truly, we include the comment of an unknown person “Well written article!!! Though difficult, Sierra Leone will surely get over inappropriate drug policies and assumptions. Keep the fires burning bro?” On the article “Marijuana legalization in Sierra Leone, what hope?”  The Sierra Leone Chapter of the West Africa Drug Policy Network and other campaigners for drug policy reform has the hope that desire changes on our nations perception / righteous indignation is but a matter of time very soon a lot of people will understand the dynamic of the drug problem. Our Deputy Speaker of Parliament his vivid example and more stakeholders are gradually changing the stands, we are getting there, at snail pace though, but we will safely land.

Saa Matthias D BENDU: National Coordinator Development Initiative and Hope for the Vulnerable, Director of Communication and Outreach.  The Sierra Leone Chapter of West Africa Drug Policy Network

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