by Seshata on 21/10/2013 | Cannabis News

Cannabis in Ghana

Cannabis is a relatively recent arrival in Ghana, as is the case with much of West Africa; it is believed that traders from Sierra Leone first brought the plant to the country in the 1930s. After the Second World War, returning servicemen brought back cannabis smoking habits from their stations in British India and North Africa.


The Republic of Ghana is a small coastal nation located in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, just north of the equator. Ghana has enjoyed political stability and economic growth since 1992; however, inequality between urban and rural areas is also increasing, and cannabis is becoming an important cash crop to many poor farmers.

History Of Cannabis In Ghana

Cannabis is a relatively recent arrival in Ghana, as is the case with much of West Africa; it is believed that traders from Sierra Leone first brought the plant to the country in the 1930s. After the Second World War, returning servicemen brought back cannabis smoking habits from their stations in British India and North Africa.

In the 1970s, domestic economic decline—along with rising demand for cannabis from both domestic and European markets—increased the crop’s importance to the Ghanaian farming community. Now, Ghana is one of West Africa’s leading cannabis producers, although production pales in comparison to the continent’s super-producers, such as South Africa and Morocco.

The Cannabis Trade in Ghana

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kro_royal/
Ghana’s capital city Accra is the country’s main trafficking hub for cannabis and other illicit drugs.

Ghana is fast becoming an important regional hub in the international trafficking networks that connect Africa to the Americas, Europe and Asia. Cocaine and heroin are of most concern to Ghanaian authorities, but cannabis is also of growing economic importance, and is increasingly attracting the attentions of policy makers.

Cannabis is primarily cultivated in the Sefwi and Aowin regions of western Ghana, as well as in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions of the south-west. In the southern and western parts of Ghana, the climate is hot, humid, and ideal for cannabis. Plants are usually intercropped with cocoa, cassava or okra to provide concealment, and plantations are often located deep within the marshy forests that characterise the region, far from the reach of law enforcement.As well as cultivation for the domestic market, trafficking out of Ghana is increasing. NOCAB has estimated that since the 1980s, at least 50% of the cannabis produced in Ghana has been destined for export. The main hub for illegal trafficking in Ghana is the international airport at Accra; however, boats, trucks and the postal system are all also used to export cannabis out of the country.

In 2012, UK Border Agency officials at Heathrow Airport seized the largest ever haul of cannabis arriving from Ghana to the UK; approximately 1.5 tonnes of the drug, valued at £4.3 million, was confiscated from three separate freight containers.

Cultural Use of Cannabis in Ghana

Although cannabis has only existed in Ghana for a century or less, a culture of use has emerged. There is a significant Rastafarian population in Ghana, many of whom are actively involved in the cultivation and sale of cannabis. Some locally-available strains are highly prized for their potency, fragrance and effect, and are a far cry from the low-quality cannabis exported to Europe.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ascentstage/
The fertile, rugged terrain found in the Brong Ahofa region of south-western Ghana is ideal for concealing illicit cannabis crops.

Cannabis use in Ghana is traditionally associated with individuals working in dangerous or arduous occupations, such as labourers, prostitutes and farmers, as well as with the criminal underclass. Cannabis use, particularly among the country’s urban youth, is increasing to the point that it is being viewed as a serious problem by the authorities.

Local terms for cannabis include bhanga  and ‘Indian hemp’ (as in Nigeria); the common term ‘weed’ appears to have mutated into an alternative colloquialism, wee, and the indigenous language Twi also supplied the expression obonsam tawa, which translates to ‘devil’s tobacco’.

Cannabis is usually purchased by the ‘roll’: this is usually a ready-rolled joint containing around 2.5g of cannabis; sometimes the loose cannabs may be purchased, in which case the dealer will provide a rolling paper as part of the usual service. A roll of cannabis usually costs GHS0.1 ($0.05); larger deals of 20-30g can often be purchased for GHS2-3 ($1-1.50).

Law & International Policy

Ghana is a signatory to the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The Narcotic Drugs (Control, Enforcement and Sanctions) Law of 1992 implemented the Convention and established the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), the main body of authority charged with implementing drug policy on a national level. The Police Narcotics Unit, based in the capital Accra, is the division of the police responsible for enforcing drug policy in Ghana.

A simple representation of the trafficking routes between the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.
A simple representation of the trafficking routes between the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

As well as having insufficient resources to control illegal trafficking, Ghana suffers from high levels of corruption, and there are indications that members of the police and government—even members of NACOB itself—are actively involved in facilitating the operations of the traffickers.

Cannabis Arrests & Sentences

Although corruption and bribery is rife in Ghana, prison sentences can be severe when they are dispensed. The Pharmacy and Drugs Act 1961 and its 1963 amendment clearly set out the punishments for cannabis offences: for first offences, a minimum of five years’ imprisonment is imposed, even for cases of simple possession. For the third offence, possession cases are punishable by twenty years’ imprisonment, and cultivation and distribution to life in prison.

Modern Attitudes to Cannabis in Ghana

Use of cannabis in Ghana has increased steadily for several decades: in the late 1990s, the UNODC estimated that 8% of Ghanaians regularly used cannabis; by 2011, use had climbed to 21% of the population, one of the highest prevalence rates in the world.

While cannabis is widely socially accepted in Ghana, and is viewed as less harmful than other narcotics, there is a widespread belief among policy makers including NACOB that cannabis is responsible for various mental illnesses and that its use should therefore be stamped out.

It is important to document the history and current events of the ongoing drug war in every country that it occurs—for this reason, organisations like the Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam are crucial as they attempt to bring together information from various credible sources in order to provide the most accurate, up-to-date and unbiased information on the present global situation.

Comment Section

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Andy

Actually, cannabis use in Ghana is NOT widely socially accepted as represented. Certain sub-cultures are noted users and may condone its use among themselves but that does not really constitute general social acceptance. Cannabis use in Ghana is quite high among the youth but is a highly stigmatised phenomenon.

05/11/2013

Chet

Have things changed with Ghana / US relations since the legalization of marijuana?

27/02/2014

smoke

Agree with Andy.
It certainly happens (especially with the youth) but Ghana is a conservative country. Heck, 'dread locks' are looked upon with disdain by many within the 'baby boomer' generation. Most likely smoked without their parents knowledge by the kids who do.

12/03/2014

Mike

Hi there! Can anyone tell me wether seeds are legal in Ghana. I'm in Accra and I want to take seeds with me back to Europe. I'm travelling by plane. Does anybody know what's going to happend if the find seeds in my luggage?

30/08/2015

nino

is it illegal to mail seeds from ghana to america

11/07/2019

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Nino,

Yes, I'm afraid it is.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

17/07/2019

Ferdinand

Are there drugs containing weed in Ghana presently?

03/11/2019

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Ferdinand,

I'm not sure I understand the question, but if you mean "is there psychoactive cannabis in Ghana?" then the answer is yes. I hope this is enough information, but if not, please respond to this comment.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

04/11/2019

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