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Smoke Driving To Social Clubs: Here’s Everything You Missed During The First Ever Recreational Cannabis Conference In Malta

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The first-ever conference on the future of recreational cannabis in Europe organised by a Maltese politician has ended following a robust discussion on the plant.

Rolling Into The Future was held on 19th April – a day before the unofficial international cannabis holiday 4/20 – and saw a list of MEPs, policy experts and analysts break down everything you need to know about global cannabis legalisation moving forward.

Hosted by MEP Cyrus Engerer from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats together with ENCOD – European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies and hosted by Lovin Malta, the conference was held online for everyone to follow safely from their own home.

Watch the full conference for free below. 

Rolling into the Future: Recreational cannabis legislation in the EU – exploring human rights based policies for future legislation

A conference by MEP Cyrus Engerer from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats together with ENCOD – European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies

Posted by Lovin Malta on Monday, April 19, 2021

Engerer, who presented an intro and outro speech during the conference, said regulating cannabis could act as a “vital blow to the black markets” operating in Malta and the Mediterranean.

“It’s time to stop the financing of organised crime through cannabis prohibition policies that send people to the black market to buy inferior unregulated products,” he said.

“Prohibition policies move cannabis trade into the black market and creates substantial financial backing to organised crime within the Mediterranean. Removing this income by regulating cannabis will hit traffickers where it hurts – in their pockets,” he continued.

MEP Cyrus Engerer

MEP Cyrus Engerer

There were two panels of high-level experts including MPs, MEPs, drug policy experts, academics, harm reduction experts, toxicologists and psychiatrists from across the EU Member States.

Engerer made it clear that if authorities wanted to combat the current black market of crime webbed across the Mediterranean, they needed to regulate the cannabis markets in order to remove control of production away from traffickers and into a regulated and secure setting.

According to two of the speakers, Economists and Professors Marco Rossi from the University of Sapienza and Professor Justus Haucap from the University of Dusseldorf both estimated that billions of money is obtained by organised crime rings every year because of the lack of regulation surrounding cannabis policy. 

Such a policy, argued Engerer, will clear the way for Malta to rid itself from the shackles many countries find themselves restrained to when it comes to organised crime in the Mediterranean because of their own non-regulation of the cannabis market.

“We need to shift away from the ‘war on drugs’ fallacies that benefits no one except the traffickers.”

The panellists dove into a range of topics, with some of the highlights being a breakdown of different Cannabis Social Clubs (CSs) around the world as well as a chemical comparison explaining the differences in testing drink driving and smoke driving.

Mafalda Pardal, Assistant Professor at the Institute for Social Drug Research noted that so often, the debate in countries is between a duopoly of “legalisation vs prohibition” when in reality there were so many more choices. 

And though there are a number of CSC models, including in places like Spain and Uruguay, the differences in operations between them showed there was not yet an international consensus on the best way forward.

Mafalda Pardal

Mafalda Pardal

Toxicologist Dr Fabian Pitter Steinmetz chemically broke down why authorities will find difficulties attempting to test cannabis intoxication in drivers if they plan on using a system similar to alcohol testing.

He noted that though drunk drivers may feel like they are more confident in their abilities when inebriated, the opposite is true for high drivers, who typically drive slower when under the influence.

However, he noted that more research needed to be done before a proper system to test cannabis intoxication levels in drivers could be properly implemented.

This was the first conference of its type to be hosted by a Maltese MEP.

As the country discusses a highly-anticipated cannabis reform paper, we can expect more open discussions on the topic over the coming weeks and months.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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READ NEXT: 8 Things That Will Happen If The Cannabis White Paper Becomes Law In Malta

Johnathan is interested in the weird, wonderful, and sometimes dark realities late capitalist society forces upon us all. He also likes food and music. Follow him at @supreofficialmt on Instagram, and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]

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