Cannabis in Ghana – Laws, Use, and History

The Ghanaian flag, a statue of a woman holding balancing scales, and a cannabis plant

Cannabis laws in Ghana are strict. Even using cannabis can result in a prison term of up to five years. Despite this fact, cannabis use is commonplace here; so much so that Ghana is one of the biggest cannabis-smoking nations in the world. It also has issues with drug trafficking and illegal cultivation; which is why its government is reviewing the laws.

    • Capital
    • Accra
    • Population
    • 33,970,000
    • CBD Products
    • Illegal
    • Recreational cannabis
    • Illegal
    • Medicinal cannabis
    • Legal

Cannabis laws in Ghana

Can you possess and use cannabis in Ghana?

Ghana’s cannabis laws are tough, even for relatively minor offences like possession and use of the drug.

The Narcotic Drug Law of 1990 states that anyone found in possession of a narcotic substance is liable to “imprisonment for a term of not less than 10 years.” Using a narcotic drug is regarded as a lesser offence, but still earns the offender a prison sentence of not less than five years.

However, class C drugs like cannabis tend to get shorter prison sentences of up to five years, with the longer terms being reserved for ‘harder’ drugs like cocaine or heroin. Additionally, bail is not normally granted for drugs offences, which is in place as a further deterrent.

Despite this, cannabis use is widespread in Ghana. In the 2014 United Nations report, the country was listed as the number one cannabis consumer in the world; though two years later, it had dropped to third place.

Pro-cannabis supporters have been outspoken in their desire to see the law changed. In 2019, the Rastafarian Council of Ghana were set to hold a march, calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis. This march was blocked by the police. 

Dennis Afram, a leading member of the council, commented: “The plant has a lot of uses, both industrial and medicinal. It’s backward to put its users in our already congested prisons, because they are not criminals.”

Likewise, John Dumelo (a famous actor in the country) spoke out in support of legalising cannabis. On a popular cooking show, he commented: “When you go to some of the western countries, it has been legalised for health purposes and we can do the same. If alcohol and cigarettes are legal in Ghana, why not marijuana?”

Other prominent figures that advocate the legalisation of cannabis in Ghana include:

  • Kofi Annan – former UN Secretary General, highly respected within the country
  • Kwesi Pratt – Ghanian journalist
  • Nana Kwaku Agyemang – sports analyst and former Okwawu United Coach
  • Professor Alex Dodoo – acting head of the Ghana Standards Authority

Perhaps as a result of this growing pressure, the government of Ghana proposed a new bill in 2017, called the Narcotics Control Commission Bill. This aims to decriminalise drug use in the country. At the time of writing, it is still awaiting approval.

Can you sell cannabis in Ghana?

Ghana’s law forbids the sale, import, export or supply of cannabis. For supplying it (with no money exchanging hands), the offender can be sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison. For producing, manufacturing, importing, exporting or distributing drugs, the sentence is increased to “not less than 10 years”. Repeat offences mean that prison terms are further increased, to as much as twenty years.

Again, the laws don’t seem to deter drug-dealers or traffickers in Ghana. The most recent International Narcotics Control Strategy Report found that the country is on a major transit route, and that drugs regularly pass through it to Europe and North America. Cannabis is regularly trafficked, particularly to Spain.

Accra International Airport is Ghana’s trafficking hub, with much of the illegal drugs arriving and leaving the country by aeroplane. However, shipments of drugs enter the ports on a regular basis, and drugs are also smuggled overland on trucks.

Cannabis seizures are relatively common. In 2012, Border Agency officials at Heathrow Airport in the UK seized the largest ever haul of cannabis arriving from Ghana – 1.5 tonnes in total. This had a total value of £4.3 million. More recently, in August 2016, over two metric tonnes of the plant were seized at Kpedze, in the Volta region.

A map showing the routes of cannabis smuggling

Can you grow cannabis in Ghana?

Cultivating cannabis in Ghana is also a criminal offence. Like trafficking, it can result in a 10-year prison sentence, even for small amounts.

This doesn’t seem to put growers off though. Although there are no official statistics relating to cannabis cultivation in Ghana, law enforcement agencies have stated that numbers of plantations are on the rise – presumably to meet local demand.

It’s mostly grown in the Sefwi and Aowin regions of western Ghana, and the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions in the south-west. The climate, which is hot and humid, is ideal for cultivating the plants. As the plantations are illegal, farmers tend to intercrop the plants with other legal crops, such as okra or cassava. Alternatively, they grow the cannabis in forests, where the plants are seldom detected by the authorities.

NOCAB estimates that, since the 1980s, around half of the cannabis grown in Ghana is exported to other countries. The remainder is destined for the domestic market.

A cannabis plant

Is CBD legal in Ghana?

CBD is not listed as a narcotic drug in Ghana. As such, it’s legal to purchase and sell it in the country.

The chemical formula of CBD and a cannabis plant

Can cannabis seeds be sent to Ghana?

Cannabis seeds are not differentiated from other parts of the plant, and are therefore illegal to use, purchase or sell. They cannot be mailed into the country.

Medicinal cannabis in Ghana

Consuming cannabis is illegal in Ghana – unless you have approval from the Ministry of Health. Although the country doesn’t have an official medicinal cannabis programme, the Narcotics Drugs Law states that a licence may be granted for “the importation of narcotic drugs if on an application made to him by such persons as may be prescribed he is satisfied that the licence can be properly granted”.

While medicinal cannabis can be obtained in the country, realistically it’s not that easy to do so. Many of Ghana’s industry-leaders and journalists have highlighted the missed opportunity of not having a medicinal cannabis programme; both for the health of the nation, and in economic terms.

GhanaWeb states: “Legalising and regulating medical cannabis will take revenue away from criminal groups and transfer it to licenced and regulated businesses. This revenue that is regained from the “illegal market” will now be collected by the government to fund state expenditures.”

Industrial hemp in Ghana

In the past, according to Ghana’s law, a company could technically apply for a licence to cultivate industrial hemp. In practice, this didn’t happen very often, and until recently, the country didn’t have a large hemp market.

However, in March 2020 a new law was passed: Act 1019 – the Narcotics Control Commission Bill. This limits the amount of THC permitted in industrial hemp to less than 0.3%, but allows CBD to be extracted from hemp for medicinal purposes.  

President of the Hemp Association of Ghana Nana Kwaku Agyemang reportedly listed the main factors promoting this change as: the environment, new revenue, and medicines, superior to opioids, that ‘…cannot kill you because no one has died from taking cannabis’.

Given that so many other nations worldwide are cashing in on the ‘green rush’, this may be something that Ghana’s government reviews in the future. Hemp’s multiple uses, and the relative ease with which it can be grown, could prove to be profitable for the nation.

Good to know

If you are travelling to Ghana (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:

Cannabis history

Like many other West African nations, cannabis wasn’t introduced to the country until fairly recently. It’s not known for sure how the plant first entered Ghana, though some experts suggest it was with returning servicemen after the Second World War, who’d discovered cannabis at their stations in British India and Northern Africa.

Others believe that cannabis came to Ghana slightly earlier – in the 1930s. Traders arrived with the plant in the ports of Sierra Leone, which then travelled along the coast. Whenever it arrived in Ghana, one thing is for sure – it became popular in a very short space of time.

By the 1970s, the country was experiencing domestic economic decline. This made cannabis an even more appealing prospect to farmers, as it offered excellent profit-making potential. To this day, Ghana remains one of the region’s most prolific cannabis growers, though its output isn’t anywhere near as high as the continent’s super-producers, like South Africa or Morocco.

The Ghanaian flag, a statue of a woman holding balancing scales, and a cannabis plant

Attitudes towards cannabis

Although the laws are harsh in Ghana, as George McBride, CEO of a UK cannabis industry consultancy says: “(…) Ghana has only had prohibition in name.” While there are prison sentences in place for those caught just using cannabis, in reality, arrests are seldom made.

Indeed, in the short time that cannabis has been in the country, it’s become an integral part of Ghana’s culture. It remains one of the largest cannabis-smoking nations on the planet, and it’s widely grown by farmers and casual users alike.

Its use is often associated with individuals working in hard, arduous occupations, like labourers or farmers. It’s also linked to prostitutes and the criminal underclass, which demonstrates that there is a stigma attached to the plant.

Cannabis consumption has increased to the point where the authorities view it as a serious issue. However, with corruption and bribery still being rife in Ghana, it seems to be that the government is fighting a losing battle.

Will it be legalised in the future?

Ghana’s government has entered into talks about decriminalising cannabis use in the future. While the bill hasn’t yet been passed, the signs seem to suggest that it’s a serious consideration, at the very least.

This may lead to other amendments to the law – for example, the introduction of a hemp law, or improvements to the medicinal cannabis laws. Only time will tell what decisions the country’s government will make.

  • Disclaimer:
    While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice, as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.


29 thoughts on “Cannabis in Ghana – Laws, Use, and History”


    Hi, I’m Dornkor a teacher.
    I watch the documentary on television and so many things it will bring to the country I want to be part or the herm association of Ghana but don’t know how to join the association.
    What is the process available for me to be able to join?

    1. Mark - Sensi Seeds

      Good afternoon Ann,

      I hope you’re having a great day.
      Unfortunately, I’m unable to provide an answer, as it’s outside of our area of expertise.
      I would recommend contacting the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority for an official response.
      Sorry, I can’t help further.

      Have a great day!


  2. Can i buy seeds from outside ghana and bring here, how would it be delivered in a safe way

    1. Mark - Sensi Seeds

      Good afternoon Kwame,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Unfortunately, cannabis seeds cannot be taken into the country. They are not differentiated from other parts of the plant, and are therefore illegal to use, purchase or sell in Ghana. Of course we’ll keep monitoring these restrictions and we’ll amend our policies immediately in the event of a change.

      This article on Equatorial cannabis varieties may also be of interest to you.

      I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

      With the best wishes,


  3. Hi Scalet et al.
    I live in Ghana and know someone who is applying for Hemp growing licence.
    Legislation not ratified yet – so no cost and other details available.
    Will update here when i get more news.

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi John,

      That’s really great, thanks for letting us know! We regularly update our articles, especially the Cannabis In… ones, so if you keep us informed we’ll add to this article.

      With best wishes,


    2. hi allan, i trust you’re well i am also in the need of information to help the startup of my cannabis products! any help will be much useful .
      thanks jaberl.

    3. Courage Agbavor

      Hello sir

      Good to know sir. Friends of mine from the US who have a huge interest in cultivation and processing of industrial hemp in ghana. They primarily want to process the hemp in to papper, clothing etc and then progress from there. For three years ago, the registration procedure we have suffered to know. Please your help is paramount here per the information you shared.

      Thank you.

  4. Hi from Ghana. The recent legislation has only opened the way to licencing for less than 0.3% (dry weight) THC type Hemp cultivation. I have so far found no evidence that any such licence is available. There is no information about Application Form, Fee, vetting proceedure etc. I can’t find any evidence that any licence has been issued to anyone. There is a rumour that the President of Ghana has his own hemp farm – so maybe he issued himself with a Licence.

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Beachsider,

      Thanks for your comment and your feedback. We are continuously checking and updating the articles in our ‘Cannabis In…’ series, and I have passed your comment to the team. The date of the most recent update can be found at the top of the article.

      Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

      With best wishes,


    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Hamidu,

      My advice would be to contact the Ministry of Health in Ghana, as answering your question is outside the scope of this blog, I’m afraid!

      With best wishes,


  5. Atsu Confidence DK

    The new hemp that they have legalise how can one get the seed and license to grow it

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi there,

      My advice would be to contact the Ministry of Health in Ghana, as answering your question is outside the scope of this blog, I’m afraid!

      With best wishes,


  6. Kweku Taylor

    Please I want to know , I want to plant this weed , cultivate and sell it in the market and pay tax on it . Please is it legal for me to do that

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi there,

      It’s not legal to cultivate, possess, or sell cannabis in Ghana. You might be able to apply for a licence to grow industrial hemp, but apparently these are not often granted. Sorry it’s bad news!

      With best wishes,


    2. Rose lawrence

      Hi I am about to travel to Ghana from the US. I have been using cannabis hemp crystal 0% THC for several years and would like to bring some with me. I use it for medicinal purpose. How do I get approval to bring some with me on the plane. I have to go through custom.

      1. Mark - Sensi Seeds

        Good afternoon Rose,

        Unfortunately it’s beyond the scope of this blog to answer that question. I suggest you consult both the Embassy of Ghana, and the Embassy of the United States of America to make sure that you get the correct information. Good Luck!

        With best wishes,


    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      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,


    2. @ MIKE – Hi, i cant give you a 100% answer
      – but in uk the prohibition law relates to THC content. Since seeds contain trace or zero THC they are not really covered. They are sold in fishing shops to help you catch Carp. Having said that i would remove the seeds from any drug related packaging as this might encourage searching/detention.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Author and reviewer

  • Profile-image

    Sensi Seeds

    The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
    More about this author
  • Maurice_Veldman

    Maurice Veldman

    Maurice Veldman is a member of the Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers and one of the Netherlands’ most notable cannabis lawyers. With 25 years’ experience in the field, his knowledge of criminal and administrative law supports cannabis sellers and hemp producers by addressing the inequalities between the individual and the state.
    More about this reviewer
Scroll to Top