Regaining authority to issue “wee” cultivation licenses for medical uses. The ability to authorize the production of tiny amounts of cannabis, often known as “wee” in Ghana, for industrial and therapeutic uses has been reclaimed by the interior minister.
The action comes after the Narcotics Regulation Commission Amendment Bill, 2023 was approved by Parliament on Wednesday, July 12.
The Narcotics Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019), is amended by the new legislation.
The new one, which replaces section 43, now gives the Interior Minister the authority to issue a license for the production of cannabis, also known as “wee” in Ghana.
However, for industrial uses to obtain fiber or seed or for therapeutic purposes, this must have a dry weight basis Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level of no more than 0.3%.
Additionally, it forbids anyone who has received a license under the bill from growing marijuana for recreational purposes.
After the bill was reintroduced in Parliament as the Narcotics Regulation Commission Amendment Bill, 2023 to alter the Narcotics Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019), the Minister of the Interior was given more authority.
In accordance with Article 106 of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s decision, the new section 43 gave Parliament the chance to discuss the policy justification for the provision.
decision of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Ezuame v. the Attorney General and the Speaker of Parliament on July 27, 2022, made the bill necessary.
In the aforementioned decision, the supreme court ruled that section 43 of Act 1019 was unconstitutional and thus invalid.
On July 28, 2022, a seven-member panel of the supreme court ruled by a 4-3 majority that Section 43 of Act 1019 was invalid because it violated Article 106 of the Constitution, which outlines the procedures a bill must go through before being voted into law by Parliament.
The court believed that the absence of discussion surrounding section 43 of Act 1019 constituted both a direct breach of Article 106 of the Constitution and a violation of the law’s spirit.
“There was glaringly no debate in Parliament over such a crucial and style of policy. It goes without saying that this behavior and method of lawmaking undermine the principles of accountability and transparency that the constitution.
In the absence of that, the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament’s procedure violated both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. Regaining authority to issue “wee” cultivation licenses for medical uses.
“This conclusion does not, in any way, derogate from Parliament’s power and independence in the conduct of its proceedings but in accordance with our supreme Constitution,” the court ruled.
According to Section 43 of Act 1019, “the Minister may grant a licence for the cultivation of cannabis, commonly known as “wee” in Ghana, which has not more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis for industrial purposes of obtaining fiber or seed for medicinal purposes.”
Timeliness of the Bill
Ophelia Mensah, vice chair of the committee, moved a motion for the House to adopt the report of the Defence and Interior Committee that examined the bill. She stated that the committee met and decided the bill was urgent and should be taken under a certificate of urgency.
According to her, Ghana would profit greatly from giving the Interior Minister the authority to control cannabis growing as long as the THC content was less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
The Narcotic Control Commission and the Ministry of the Interior engaged in pre-laying engagement with the Parliamentary Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Draft Regulations of Act 1019, including provisions for operationalizing section 43 of the Act, it was brought to the Committee’s attention prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“The reintroduction of the said section, which was struck down as unconstitutional, will therefore restore the Act to its full original provisions and accordingly pave the way for the regulations to be laid in Parliament in accordance with Article 11 (7) of the Constitution and Order 77 of the Standing Orders of Parliament,” the speaker said.
The MP for Mfantseman added that information gathered by the committee showed that foreign investors had started making plans to start investing in cannabis cultivation before the Supreme Court ruling, including entering into agreements with local partners and joint venture companies.
In order to minimize potential losses to these interested investors, Mrs. Ophelia said, “There is therefore a need for some urgency in the passage of the Bill.”
According to a ruling by the Supreme Court, under Section 43 of Act 1019, the Minister of the Interior may, on the advice of the Narcotics Control Commission (NACOC), award a company a license to cultivate cannabis with a Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level of no more than 0.3 for both industrial and medical uses.
The court ruled that the bill was unconstitutional because, as required by Article 106(5)(6) of the 1992 Constitution, no debate on it occurred in Parliament before it was passed into law.
The supreme court was once more of the considered opinion that the explanatory note attached to the measure submitted to Parliament did not detail the policy shift, the flaws in the present law, and the requirement to adopt a statute to authorize cannabis growing.
It concluded that such an omission violated Article 106 (2) of the 1992 Constitution.