Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I also rise to support the Report of the Committee, which seeks to improve and make changes in the existing law, as far as drug addiction, its use and trafficking are concerned.
Mr Speaker, indeed, having gone through the Report, it is obvious that the propositions being made are very apt and appropriate especially with the focus on decriminalising the use of narcotic drugs, and considering it as a health issue.
Mr Speaker, in doing that, one would imagine that it would also be very pertinent for us to look at it from the perspective of awareness creation, especially, when we have a lot of young people who turn out to be victims.
Some of these people obviously end up engaging in it as a result of peer pressure. Some are also as a result of them not knowing their left from their right, and need correction. I believe that this is the correction that this Bill seeks to make.
A lot of these young people also, when arrested, get their reputation tainted, and they carry along that scar throughout their lives.
Mr Speaker, if this Bill however does not add the angle of education; making it mandatory, we may not be able to achieve what we seek to achieve by it. This is because for me, there would be the need to educate our young people right from the primary school level, through to the Junior High School (JHS), for which
matter drug related issues must be part of our curricular in our educational institutions.
It must be made mandatory, so that if young people are growing, they would know the dangers in using drugs. Even though we would want to consider it a health issue, we would have a plethora of addicts on our hands to deal with, and the health centers may not be able to contain them.
However, if we are able to conscientise them; give them the necessary education as part of their learning, then they would be able to know the consequences of the use of marijuana. It therefore becomes a choice, and a quality choice for that matter to make.
This is just like how we talk about the use of cigarette. A lot of people know that the use of cigarette could lead to cancer, et cetera, so they may choose not to use it.
Mr Speaker, I would crave the framers of the Bill to re-consider an aspect, which would focus on making education from the lower school levels compulsory, and to also get the NCCE to intensify its public educational efforts, so that those who may not be in school -- it is not every young person, irrespective of the free SHS, who may find himself or herself in