Thursday, June 23, 2016

PODCAST: ep.79 | A Conversation with West Africa Drug Policy Network: After UNGASS 2016, & Way Forward on Global Drug Policy

PODCAST -- Season 4, ep.14 (Ep.79)
Researched & Executive-produced by E.K.Bensah Jr
Technical Production: Selma Graham & Kelvin Asante

Ahead of World Drugs Day (International Day Against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking) on Sunday, we used episode 79 of "Africa in Focus" to speak to two members of the Ghana Chapter of the West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) on the state of drug policy after the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drug policy.

Both members were in New York in April attending UNGASS. For WADPN, it was especially important to get a sense of the progress of member States of the UN on the future of drug policy.

The outcome document recommends measures to address demand and supply reduction, and improve access to controlled medecines, while preventing diversion. A lot still needs to be done as far as Ghana, the subregion, and Africa at large is concerned.

The WAdPN, in this respect, is a unique network that has backing from the Dakar-based West Africa Commission on Drugs, which is equally the brainchild of the Kofi Annan Foundation.

The interview is revealing in offering the genesis of the Network; the state of drug policy before UNGASS in 2016; the instrumentality of the Latin American States in the awareness-raising of global drug policy; the challenges of UNGASS ("evolution rather than revolution"); the obdurate member States like Indonesia who want more-of-the-same on drug policy (capital punishment and executions). We also unpacked the bright spots for the advocacy of the Network, including how WADPN has been able to open multiple channels of engagement -- including with Ghana's Narcotics Board (NACOB), and Ghana's legislature.

Both Adamu and Akuamoah-Boateng helped us appreciate the distinction between decriminalization (which Adamu believes should be possible in Ghana and West Africa) and legalization, which the former believes we are not ready for as we do not have resources.

The sixth show in the series seeking to demystify, unpack, and explain regional and global drug policy for listeners, Radio XYZ93.1fm has, through Africa in Focus Show, consistently shed light on why it remains important to reverse the war on drugs, and change the narrative to a public health one, where we support, not punish drug users.

While law enforcement should do its utmost to catch the drug traffickers, the State must consider how cost-effective it would be to pump limited resources towards a public health approach for drug users.

The advocacy on #supportdontpunish continues unabated!


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