By Gifty Arthur
The Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine is being called upon to start research into industrial properties of marijuana and also develop a certificate programme in that regard.
The chief of the Great Ametafor in the East Osudoku Traditional Area in the Greater Accra Region, Nene Ogah Osuagbo I, who is making the call,believes the stiff opposition to the legalization of marijuana, is as a result ofpeople not being well informed about the advantages of the plant.
According to the traditional ruler, the certificate programme, will provide the scientific basis and also make an excellent case for the medicinal properties of the plant.
Nene Ogah Osuagbo I, who said this at the maiden matriculation and white coat ceremony of the College at Tema over the weekend, said “In the meantime, I would like to appeal to Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine to commence further research, training, workshops and studies into the high value industrial properties of Indian Hemp.
I would further appeal to the college to develop a certificate programme in medicinal marijuana to provide the scientific basis of the medicinal properties of the plant. This would demystified the so many negativity attached to it as the popular saying “my people will perish for lack of knowledge”.
He went on to resurrect the old debate on whether or not to legalize the cultivation of popular medicinal plant, marijuana saying President Akufo-Addo, must listen to popular counsel and legalize it.
According to the traditional ruler, Ghana stands a chance of benefitting greatly from the plant, should it be legalized.
The plant is variously referred to as marijuana, weed, Indian Hemp, ganja, wee, abosomtawa, ntampi among others.
Nene Ogah Osuagbo I, said even though he is aware of the stiff opposition from certain quarters of society, he sees nothing wrong with it legalization, especially for export.
In his view, the continuous opposition was rather denying Ghana huge foreign exchange as countries elsewhere are cashing in on the plant.
As part of government’s flagship one district one factory programme, Nene Ogah Osuagbo I, went on by asking government to establish a weed factory, after it has made it lawful, to reduce poverty among his people.
According to the chief, like many other parts of the country, the vast land is fertile for the controversial plant.
He said, considering it high medicinal values, coupled with it usage in the pharmaceutical industry and many others, it was important Ghana takes a second look at it benefits, rather than the fixation on the few disadvantages.
Referring to it as Ghana Hemp, the chief said, the fact that some people continue to abuse the plant by way of smoking, it does not mean it other benefits which he said outweigh it abuse, should not be exploited.
“I want to seek permission from you to use this platform to provoke a thought; a thought which many Ghanaians know is the obvious way to go, but for fear of name-calling and populist backlash, they are unwilling to speak to it openly.
One typical example of such high value plants is the oil palm with its multiple integrated inherent viral benefits some of which include, palm oil, palm kennel oil, roofing material, mushroom , broom akr)ku, fresh sweet wine, medical spirit/ethanol alcohol and many more. Plants like Ghana Hemp, also has very high medicine or industrial uses.
…….the fact that an aspect of Ghana Hemp, could be smoked is only incidental or environmental and not different from the abuse of any other product and therefore it does not justify the demonization of the plant and the criminalization of its cultivation for industrial purpose in Ghana. After all, Atomic or Nuclear Energy, is not the same as an Atomic Bomb.
Ghana Hemp farmers are agri-business men and women, who are into job creation and poverty reduction. They are not “ganjer”, smokers. Tobacco farmers are not cigarette smokers. Licensed importers and manufacturer of guns are not armed robbers etc etc.
The protocols which resulted in the successful establishment of the Atomic Plant and the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences of the University of Ghana at Kwabenya, are sufficient pointers to the fact that, we can comfortably accommodate a Ghana Hemp Industry Plant and a school of Hemp and Allied Integrative Medical Studies which I know the benefits far outweigh, the temporarily associated health hazards”.
He continued “Those who smoke hemp do not do so because of the hazards. They do so because they want to access the health benefits such as energy booster, stimulants, concentration, mental alertness, memory retention and not just the fun of the smoke.
If we harness these essential indicators of the plants and put them out there as medicines and regulate its intake or application, we can then reap the benefits according to God’s plan”.
He further called on the President to as a matter of priority, hasten the process to and also constitute a body known as Ghana Hemp Commission, which will see to it management, both for local and export purposes.
“I therefore wish to use this platform to call on Prez Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo (DO THE DO) to as a matter of urgency take steps to legalize the cultivation or production of Ghana Hemp or Ghana wee and appoint the Ghana Hemp Commission to manage the commercial cultivation of the plant for local industrial purposes and for export.
……. I wish to assure you that any place where God plants man he has already blessed the land with resources necessary to be exploited to sustain mankind. Unfortunately, now that plant medicine is being promoted, we cannot guarantee the sustainability and availability of medicinal plants juxtaposing the rate at which medicinal plants are being destroyed through equally important competitive development project especially Chemical Commercial Agricultural Practices.
On this score, I wish to encourage the Traditional Authorities to dedicate lands for medicinal plant cultivation which could serve as industrial raw material for herbal medicine manufacturing”.
He tasked government to bring issues of natural medicine to the front burner and also support the President of the Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, Prof. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, as natural medicine ambassador considering his works in that area.
“I would also further call on the President, to make natural medicines, a priority which could generate billions of dollars for the country if attention is paid and appoint Prof. Nyarkotey Obu as an ambassador for natural medicines in Ghana, as he has proven beyond doubt that, there is something good in natural medicines”, the chief said.
A representative from the Traditional Medicine Council, Nelson Menorkpor, commended Prof. Nyarkotey and the college for their contribution in the industry.
He said, the traditional and alternative medicine industry, has over the years lacked the training facilities to train qualified practitioners, to promote this area of healthcare. According to him, the establishment of the College has, therefore come at the right time.
“I want to express my appreciation to the founders of this College for their great strive thereby contributing to the Council’s effort in improving standards in the practice of traditional and alternative medicine practice.
The traditional and alternative industry, has suffered several setbacks for years.
One setback, is the limited number of educational or training schools, to formally train qualified practitioners and assistants.
It is for this reason that the Council, has developed a curriculum in professional certificate programmes in herbal medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy etc.
We encourage institutions such as Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, to adopt such curriculum, in order to bridge the gaps that currently exist in the health sector, with respect to traditional and alternative medicine practice.
The Council, was particularly excited about Prof. Nyarkotey’s exploits, which have won him several wards.
“It also gives me great hope to know that the industry has experts like Nyakotey Obu, who continually lead the crusade in the development and promotion of traditional and alternative medicine by presenting his works and activities in the print media, workshops conferences etc…..
According to the Council, traditional and alternative medicine practice, is fast gaining grounds in the healthcare delivery system, adding in some government hospitals across the country, the industry has units at these hospitals.
Mr Menorkpor, quoted a World Health Organization (WHO) report which states that in parts of Asia and Africa, 80 percent of the population in some of these countries, depend on traditional and alternative medicine.
“Asia and Africa countries, 80 percent ofthe population depends on traditional on traditional for their primary healthcare, according to WHO. The provision of save and effective traditional medicine could be critical tool for increasing overall access to healthcare.
Today in Ghana, some government, regional and district hospitals, have herbal medicine units and that is in connection with theMinistry of Health’s aim to successfully, integrate traditional medicine into mainstream healthcare system”, he said.