Review Of 2008 Drugs Act! -CSO Demands

 

By Ayodele Deen Cole

11th May every year is recognized globally by hundreds of millions of youths around the world as Bob Marley’s Day – a day they set aside to commemorate the ideologies and principles of the great Jamaican reggae musician, Robert Nestor Marley popularly known as Bob Marley.

Despite being illegal in Sierra Leone, youths across the country use this day to smoke marijuana as part of the commemoration. But this year, a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Social Linkages for Youth Development and Child Link (SLYDC) will be coming up with a day’s seminar to call for the review of the National Drugs Policies and the Drugs Acts of 2008, especially pushing for a review of the legalization of medical marijuana in the country.

According to the Executive Director of SLYDC, Habib T. Kamara, though the current 2008 Drugs Act criminalizes marijuana, a policy is already in place with government calling for the decriminalization of the drugs. He said the seminar would attract up to one hundred stakeholders in Freetown and would be used as a platform to call for a change in the misconception of marijuana, especially on 11th May.

Habib T. Kamara furthered that another goal of the seminar is to provide a platform for intersectoral participation to understand the roles of achieving the new drugs and marijuana policy, and also to share innovative ideas, best practices and fulfill the recommendation of UNGAS that calls for the decriminalization of marijuana.

He said the seminar would also create a platform to start a national conversation for the review of the drugs policy and for the use of medical marijuana. The Executive Director said his organization and other NGOs will intensify calls for the reforms and to also call on government and other health stakeholders to the economic and social costs of the drugs.

According to Mr. Kamara, the country would derive a lot of  economic and social benefits should the government decide to push forward for the decriminalization of medical marijuana, adding that if marijuana is regulated, its harmful misconceptions would be cleared and the country would derived lots of tax revenue from it.

The Executive Director made reference to Canada and Uruguay where, he said, the decriminalization of marijuana has yielded much needed revenue for both countries and saw the construction of new rehabilitation centers. He however lamented that at present, there is no fully equipped government rehabilitation center in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Kamara maintained that when marijuana is properly regulated, people would not sell or smoke it without a proper license which, he said, could bring much need revenue and help reduce the high number of unemployment among youths and professional people.