National Referral Mental Hospital and the Ministry of Health are calling for a complete prohibition on the cultivation and consumption of Cannabis and Khati in the proposed Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Bill, 2023, which is currently being considered.
They are urging Parliament to prioritize public health over revenue generated from the legalization of cannabis and khati in Uganda. They argue that legalizing these drugs would cause untold suffering among the country’s youth.
The call was made by both the Minister of Health, Ruth Aceng, and Juliet Naku, Executive Director of Butabika while appearing before Parliament’s Health Committee where they had appeared to present their views on the proposed Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Bill, 2023.
Butabika praised the enactment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Bill, 2023, stating that it will establish a comprehensive law to address production, supply, demand, and home production. They urged Parliament not to yield to demands for the legalization of Khati and Cannabis growth for medical purposes.
The Minister of Health, Aceng accused the Wakiso Millers Growers’ Association of prioritizing commercial benefits over health by taking Parliament to court when the law was enacted.
The Committee discovered that cannabis use is the second leading cause of rehabilitation admittance at Butabika, with alcohol abuse being the top cause. In 2022, out of 7,035 patients, 25% were admitted due to alcohol and cannabis use. Butabika called on Parliament to establish mental health rehabilitation and treatment centers and to regulate and monitor these facilities where patients are committed.
Butabika also proposed the insertion of a new clause in 53(3) to provide for opinions from mental health experts before a decision is taken by the court to commit anyone to a mental health facility instead of leaving this decision solely to judges in courts of law.
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