Story: Kwadwo Owusu Aduomi
The Supreme Court has in a majority 5-4 decision affirmed its view that the law allowing cultivation of weed in Ghana was unconstitutionally passed by Parliament.
Presiding Judge Justice Dotse stated that the threshold a party ought to meet to enable it to review its own judgement has not been met.
The court in July 2022 struck out Section 43 of the Narcotics Narcotics Control Commission Act, Act 1019.
This provision stipulated that “the Minister on the recommendation of the Commission, may grant a licence for the cultivation of cannabis popularly referred to as “wee” in Ghana, which is not more than 0.3 % THC content on a dry weight basis for industrial purposes for obtaining fibre or seed for medicinal purposes.”
However, the Apex court in a 4-3 majority decision annulled this provision and declared that it is a violation of Article 106 of the 1992 constitution.
This article reads;
“No bill, other than such a bill as is referred to in paragraph (a) of article 108 of this Constitution, shall be introduced in Parliament unless-
a. it is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles of the bill, the defects of the existing law, the remedies proposed to deal with those defects and the necessity for its introduction; and
b. it has been published in the Gazette at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction in Parliament.”
The private citizen, Ezuame Mannan argued that the explanatory memorandum that was laid in parliament did not sufficiently lay out the policy change that was being brought by the law, specifically by section 43.
This policy change he insisted was not debated enough before its passage into law. The Apex Court upheld this position.
The Attorney General however filed processes asking the court to review its decision. Mr Dame told the court the original panel committed an error of law.
“Fundamental and grave errors have occasioned a substantial miscarriage of justice. It is only at the beginning of the process that there must be a memorandum.
“There is no requirement for a memorandum to further accompany any amendment made by Parliament. Such a reading of the law imposes a further burden on Parliament and curtails its autonomy in passing laws, Mr Dame stated.
The lawyer for the private citizen Effiba Amihere disagreed.
“No miscarriage of justice has been occasioned by the decision of the court. We will respectfully talk about the amendment which is section 43, that was sneaked in at the time that the full debate had concluded.
“That it was contrary to the Constitution. The AG has said that in amending the law, there is no need for the memorandum, the issues as well as the departure from the national policy, the position do the plaintiff is that, at the time of the debate, this particular amendment that was sneaked in, was not part. The nation was not made aware of the clear change in the policy.” She stated.
Justice Jones Dotse ruled that the review threshold of the court had not been met. Justices Jones Dotse, Prof Kotey, Mariama Owusu, Prof Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, and Emmanuel Kulendi formed the majority while Justices Lovelace Johnson, Amadu Tanko, Samuel Asiedu and George Koomson formed the minority.