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Legalise cannabis – Kofi Annan[@KofiAnnan]

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Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is pushing for the legalization of cannabis and other personal drugs.

However, he said regulations must be put in place by governments to curtail abuse.

“And therefore, the fourth and final step is to recognize that drugs must be regulated precisely because they are risky. It is time to acknowledge that drugs are infinitely more dangerous if they are left solely in the hands of criminals who have no concerns about health and safety.

“Legal regulation protects health. Consumers need to be aware of what they are taking and have clear information on health risks and how to minimize them. Governments need to be able to regulate vendors and outlets according to how much harm a drug can cause. The most risky drugs should never be available “over the counter” but only via medical prescription for people registered as dependent users, as is already happening in Switzerland,” the illustrious son of Ghana said in an article.

Below is the full piece first published in Der Spiegel International:

Drugs are dangerous, but current narcotics policies are an even bigger threat because punishment is given a greater priority than health and human rights. It’s time for regulations that put lives and safety first, argues former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In my experience, good public policy is best shaped by the dispassionate analysis of what in practice has worked, or not. Policy based on common assumptions and popular sentiments can become a recipe for mistaken prescriptions and misguided interventions.

Nowhere is this divorce between rhetoric and reality more evident than in the formulation of global drug policies, where too often emotions and ideology rather than evidence have prevailed.

Take the case of the medical use of cannabis. By looking carefully at the evidence from the United States, we now know that legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes has not, as opponents argued, led to an increase in its use by teenagers. By contrast, there has been a near tripling of American deaths from heroin overdoses between 2010 and 2013, even though the law and its severe punishments remain unchanged.

This year, between April 19 and 21, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a special session on drugs and the world will have a chance to change course. As we approach that event, we need to ask ourselves if we are on the right policy path. More specifically, how do we deal with what the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has called the “unintended consequences” of the policies of the last 50 years, which have helped, among other things, to create a vast, international criminal market in drugs that fuels violence, corruption and instability? Just think of the 16,000 murders in Mexico in 2013, many of which are directly linked to drug trafficking.

A War on People
Globally, the “war on drugs” has not succeeded. Some estimate that enforcing global prohibition costs at least $100 billion (€90.7 billion) a year, but as many as 300 million people now use drugs worldwide, contributing to a global illicit market with a turnover of $330 billion a year, one of the largest commodity markets in the world.

Prohibition has had little impact on the supply of or demand for drugs. When law enforcement succeeds in one area, drug production simply moves to another region or country, drug trafficking moves to another route and drug users switch to a different drug. Nor has prohibition significantly reduced use. Studies have consistently failed to establish the existence of a link between the harshness of a country’s drug laws and its levels of drug use. The widespread criminalization and punishment of people who use drugs, the over-crowded prisons, mean that the war on drugs is, to a significant degree, a war on drug users — a war on people.

Africa is sadly an example of these problems. The West Africa Commission on Drugs, which my foundation convened, reported last year that the region has now become not only a major transit point between producers in Latin America and consumers in Europe, but an area where consumption is increasing. Drug money, and the criminality associated with it, is fostering corruption and violence. The stability of countries and the region as a whole is under threat.

I believe that drugs have destroyed many lives, but wrong government policies have destroyed many more. We all want to protect our families from the potential harm of drugs. But if our children do develop a drug problem, surely we will want them cared for as patients in need of treatment and not branded as criminals.

Stop Stigmatizing and Start Helping
The tendency in many parts of the world to stigmatize and incarcerate drug users has prevented many from seeking medical treatment. In what other areas of public health do we criminalize patients in need of help? Punitive measures have sent many people to prison, where their drug use has worsened. A criminal record for a young person for a minor drug offence can be a far greater threat to their well-being than occasional drug use.

The original intent of drug policy, according to the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, was to protect the “health and welfare of mankind.” We need to refocus international and national policy on this key objective.
This requires us to take four critical steps.

First, we must decriminalize personal drug use. The use of drugs is harmful and reducing those harms is a task for the public health system, not the courts. This must be coupled with the strengthening of treatment services, especially in middle and low-income countries.

Second, we need to accept that a drug-free world is an illusion. We must focus instead on ensuring that drugs cause the least possible harm. Harm reduction measures, such as needle exchange programs, can make a real difference. Germany adopted such measures early on and the level of HIV infections among injecting drug users is close to 5 percent, compared to over 40 percent in some countries which resist this pragmatic approach.

Third, we have to look at regulation and public education rather than the total suppression of drugs, which we know will not work. The steps taken successfully to reduce tobacco consumption (a very powerful and damaging addiction) show what can be achieved. It is regulation and education, not the threat of prison, which has cut the number of smokers in many countries. Higher taxes, restrictions on sale and effective anti-smoking campaigns have delivered the right results.

The legal sale of cannabis is a reality that started with California legalizing the sale of cannabis for medical use in 1996. Since then, 22 US states and some European countries have followed suit. Others have gone further still. A voter initiative which gained a majority at the ballot box has caused Colorado to legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational use. Last year, Colorado collected around $135 million in taxes and license fees related to legal cannabis sales. Others have taken less commercial routes. Users of Spain’s cannabis social clubs can grow and buy cannabis through small non-commercial organizations. And Canada looks likely to become the first G7 country to regulate the sale of cannabis next year.

Legal Regulation Protects Health
Initial trends show us that where cannabis has been legalized, there has been no explosion in drug use or drug-related crime. The size of the black market has been reduced and thousands of young people have been spared criminal records. But a regulated market is not a free market. We need to carefully think through what needs regulating, and what does not. While most cannabis use is occasional, moderate and not associated with significant problems, it is nonetheless precisely because of its potential risks that it needs to be regulated.

And therefore, the fourth and final step is to recognize that drugs must be regulated precisely because they are risky. It is time to acknowledge that drugs are infinitely more dangerous if they are left solely in the hands of criminals who have no concerns about health and safety. Legal regulation protects health. Consumers need to be aware of what they are taking and have clear information on health risks and how to minimize them. Governments need to be able to regulate vendors and outlets according to how much harm a drug can cause. The most risky drugs should never be available “over the counter” but only via medical prescription for people registered as dependent users, as is already happening in Switzerland.

Scientific evidence and our concern for health and human rights must shape drug policy. This means making sure that fewer people die from drug overdoses and that small-time offenders do not end up in jail where their drug problems get worse. It is time for a smarter, health-based approach to drug policy.

It is time for countries, such as Germany, which have adopted better policies at home, to strongly advocate for policy change abroad. The United Nations General Assembly special session on the world drug problem would be a good place to start.


-Starrfmonline

Media & Culture

Court Case: The Deafening Silence Of Black Sherif And His Investor

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What is the latest on Black Sherif’s court issue with his investor, Shadrach Agyei Owusu (Chavis)?

Well, Ghana Weekend has been following up on the matter. At least we need to get our audience updated on the issue since it is of great interest to many.

The case

On 11th April 2022, a writ of summons by the plaintiff, Shadrach Agyei Owusu, requesting that Ghanaian artiste Black Sherif be prevented from performing at events without his consent, was sighted by the media.

Shadrack requested an order for the preservation of all funds accrued from Black Sherif’s online streams.

Shadrach Agyei Owusu, the Chief Executive Officer of Waynes Chavis Consult, wanted a receiver to be taking the proceeds of all funds that would be accrued from the activities of the defendant.

This happened at a time when Black Sherif’s latest song ‘Kwaku The Traveller’ was topping global charts, making him the most sought-after artiste in Ghana in recent times.

Why was Black Sherif sued?

This suit came on the back of claims that Black Sherif had neglected his investor after he had injected funds into his career.

Black Sherif was reported to have signed a distribution deal with Empire Music without the consent of his investor, who purportedly had a business management contract with him.

The contract required that Black Sherif conducted all his activities through the investor who came on board to help the artiste.

Court day: May 9, 2022

This was the date set for the court hearing on the matter. So far, little information has been gathered about what became of that particular hearing.

While some of our sources say the case was not called at all, others say, it was deferred to a later date.

Ghana Weekend has tried scooping some information from both sides of the issue, but they are unwilling to really give details of the current situation of this suit.

Our interest

Ordinarily, this should be none of our business, but Ghana Weekend, as a media organisation, is interested in streamlining all facets of the entertainment industry. We saw this matter as a test case of many cracks in artiste-manager deals in the country. We are not on a mission of waking up sleeping dogs. We want precedence to be set for posterity.

Currently, Black Sherif is minding his music business, making money for himself, and growing his music career. Shadrack on the other hand is going about his work. They are both silent about the issue like nothing happened.

Maybe they have squashed their matter in private. Maybe Ghana Weekend is impatient with the outcome of the court hearing.

Maybe, our dear readers need to keep their eyes glued to our platforms as we nose out all details on this matter in our subsequent episodes.

We’ll be back!

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Media & Culture

Feli Nuna’s “Towel” Hits 100K Views On YouTube

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Feli Nuna, Off Da Ground signed artist, released a top-charting song on May 11, 2022.

Shawerz Ebiem produced the song “Towel,” and R.Dee shot and directed the video.

Since its release, the song has become a trending topic in Ghana, with over 100,000 views on the global video platform YouTube.

Watch below.

The video has since featured well-known celebrities such as Efya, Jackie is everywhere, Nadia, Shatta Michy, Christable Ekeh, and others.

Feli Nuna’s towel song is all about taking care of one’s self. Self-care is defined as an individual’s, family’s, or community’s ability to promote health, prevent disease, and maintain health by eating well and engaging in stress-relieving activities.

Feli Nuna, real name Felicia Nuna Akosua Tawiah, has performed on major stages throughout Ghana, including the Ghana Music Awards Nominees Concert, the 4styte Music Video Awards, Coke Studio Africa, the Yaws Fashion Show in Gambia, the Asia-Africa Youth Festival in China, and many more.

Follow Feli Nuna on these social handles below.

Facebook: Feli Nuna

Twitter: @FeliNuna

Instagram: @FeliNuna

Tiktok: @FeliNuna

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Media & Culture

Gospel Singer Mercy Chinwo Is Engaged

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Mercy Chinwo, Nigerian gospel singer, is engaged.

On Thursday, June 23, 2022, the music star announced the exciting news on her Instagram page.

“I am blessed to be blessed with @theofficialblessed ❤️ The thoughts of doing the next phase and the rest phase of my life with you makes the blessing more real💃 I love you Sweet❤️,” she wrote.

The music star’s soon-to-be husband, Blessed, also shared the big news via his Instagram page.

“I’M THE MAN THE LORD SHOWED MERCY! @mercychinwo thanks for saying YES! I LOVE YOU DEARLY !😍😍😍😍😍 Ecclesiastical 9:9 Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your REWARD for all your earthly toil. #Mercyisblessed,” he captioned their pre-wedding photos.

Blessed is a pastor at the WaterBrook Church and The Upperroom. He is also an IT professional.

Chinwo is a Nigerian gospel musician, singer and songwriter.

She won the Nigerian Idol Season 2 in 2012.

Chinwo released her first single, “Testimony“, in 2015, and “Igwe” a year later.

She has also had a stint in acting.

She landed her first film role in Yvonne Nelson’s film, House of Gold where she acted as Lucia, starring alongside Yvonne NelsonMajid Michel and Omawumi among others.

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