Gambia: 'Govt Totally Opposes Decriminalisation of Cannabis Use'

18 March 2019

Minister of the Interior, Ebrima Mballow has said that The Gambia government is totally opposing the decriminalisation of cannabis use, adding that cannabis is the most problematic drug in The Gambia responsible for most drug related crimes.

Mr. Mballow was speaking on Thursday, during the ministerial segment of the sixty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria.

He further held that the youth are highly vulnerable to cannabis abuse leading to an increase in the number of youth with drug-induced psychosis. He therefore called on the CND to take a stronger and realistic position in tackling the problem of cannabis abuse.

"Like many other countries in the world particularly in Africa, controlled drugs continue to find their way into the illegal market in The Gambia, resulting to many young people access to it and thus the misusing and abuse," he said, adding that the Drug Control Act (DCA) has outlined the standards and conditions that should be fulfilled before import, export or put specifically controlled drugs on transit through The Gambia and as well the Medicines and Related Products Act 214

However, he held that it was their strong view that only one institution could carry out the huge task no matter how many legal mandates they may be vested with, adding that an MoU was signed among the competent authorities to cooperate and coordinate efforts by complementing and synchronising competencies and capacities. This has brought about a more robust, secure and transparent licensing and monitoring of those entities dealing in drug control.

He said that the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of The Gambia (DLEAG) signed a partnership with Medicines Control Agency (MCA), Pharmacy Council and National Pharmaceutical Services (NPS) to conduct a national survey on the situation of controlled drugs in the country from the 17th to 26th October 2016, saying that the survey reports outlined observations and provided some recommendations focusing on Importation, Distribution and Usage. These recommendations were used to inform policy and help to create legal safe guards in the drug control bill, he highlighted.

For his part, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, H.E. Mr. Yury Fedotov said the challenges are proliferating while responses struggle to keep pace, with rising production and trafficking of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and new psychoactive substances; record upload overdose deaths; and shortfalls in treatment and medical and social services for all those who need them.

Enumerating about the progress made by the international community, he said, "we have increased understanding of multifaceted drug problems and the balanced responses need to confront them. We have continuously strengthened international cooperation and operational coordination."

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