Ghana prohibits the use of cannabis for either medical or recreational uses.
The nation’s severe drug regulations are a result of its battles with drug trafficking and illegal marijuana cultivation. Cannabis use or possession in Ghana carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence. However, the government is moving towards legalizing the production of low-THC cannabis for medical use.
Ghana Medical Marijuana Laws
Cannabis used or cultivated for medical purposes is still illegal in Ghana.
Ghana’s Parliament legalized low-THC cannabis in 2020 for both therapeutic and industrial uses. The following modifications were implemented under Section 43 of the Narcotics Control Commission Act of 2020:
- The Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) of the nation should be changed into a commission with more authority.
- Permit the Narcotics Control Commission to issue cultivation permits for cannabis with a maximum THC content of 0.3% in dry weight, the same limit permitted for hemp growing in the United States under the 2018 Farm Bill.
- Only allow the industrial and medical uses of low-THC cannabis, such as the production of fiber.
- Obtain permission to extract CBD, which Ghana does not classify as a narcotic substance.
- In addition, it is suggested that the government would address drug misuse as a matter of public health by changing the punishment for private cannabis possession from a prison sentence to a fine.
Ras Mubarak, a member of parliament (MP), reaffirmed that recreational marijuana for individual use would continue to be illegal in Ghana, clarifying the following:
- Cannabis cultivation and possession are prohibited without a permit.
- Growing marijuana with greater than 0.3% THC is still prohibited.
- For individuals who cultivate or possess cannabis without a valid license, the law allows for harsher penalties.
Unfortunately, in May 2023, a majority of judges on Ghana’s Supreme Court decided not to approve certain provisions of the Act. The court found that in putting forth and approving the bill, Ghanaian lawmakers disregarded a number of fundamental criteria. Ghanaian legislators did not follow the following guidelines:
- According to the Ghanaian Constitution, lawmakers must submit bills together with “explanatory memoranda” and supporting information.
- A bill must be filed 14 days prior to a discussion and vote.
Instead, they merely discussed the Act 12 minutes before the vote.
Despite of the Supreme Court’s judgment to strike down portions of the Act, Ghana’s Minister for the Interior, Mr. Ambrose Dery, stated: “Individuals who wish to apply for such a [cultivation] license would be provided with standard plants’ only for that purpose.”
As of March 2023, the Hempire Association of Ghana declared that more than 70 companies were still awaiting government clearance for growth licenses.
Cannabis Penalties in Ghana
Ghana’s continued adherence to strict drug prohibitions is a response to the nation’s battle with illegal trafficking. Cannabis cannot be purchased locally, nor can it be imported, exported, or supplied.
The following punishments are outlined in Ghana’s Narcotic Drug Law of 1990 for using drugs, including cannabis:
- Minimum 10-year jail sentence if found in possession.
- Five years’ minimum incarceration if found using
- Minimum five-year prison sentence if found selling
- Minimum 10-year prison sentence if producing, manufacturing, importing, exporting, or distributing.
- Ten years in prison if found cultivating
The law forbids granting bail for people found in possession of drugs, including cannabis, and repeat offenses can result in prison sentences of up to 20 years.
Ghana vs. Other Countries
Despite having some of the highest levels of worldwide output, cannabis is prohibited throughout Africa. However, the financial benefits of legalizing cannabis are compelling and growing throughout Africa, supported by the money made in countries where it is already legal, such as the United States and Canada.
Ghana’s efforts to alter its drug laws are in line with some of the progressive developments occurring across the continent, despite the fact that cannabis is still prohibited there.
Personal use was decriminalized in South Africa, and similar legislation has been explored in Egypt and Mozambique.
Eleven nations, including South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, and Seychelles, have medical marijuana laws that are either already in place or are still being debated.
Other nations, including Cameroon, have made attempts to establish export markets.
Is it Legal to Grow Cannabis in Ghana?
Cannabis cultivation is illegal in Ghana. Even for tiny amounts, it is punishable by a 10-year prison sentence.
However, farmers don’t appear to be deterred by this. Although there aren’t any official numbers on cannabis farming in Ghana, law enforcement organizations have reported that the number of plantations is growing, presumably to meet local demand.
The Ghanaian government has started discussions on the potential decriminalization of cannabis use. Although the bill hasn’t been passed yet, the indications point to at least a serious consideration of it.
This could result in additional legal changes, such as the adoption of a hemp law or an upgrade to the regulations governing medical marijuana. What choices the national government will make will only become clear with time.