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WATCH: Black Market Will ‘Find A Way’ Around Malta’s New Cannabis Reform, PN MP Predicts

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The black market will find a way of profiting off Malta’s upcoming cannabis reform, Nationalist MP Claudette Buttigieg has warned.

Interviewed by Lovin Malta, Buttigieg said the fact cannabis users currently have no other option but the black market was “one of the bigger dilemmas” that PN MPs faced in their discussions before they decided to oppose the bill.

“From the material I’ve been reading and especially by talking to the experts in the field, from my understanding there isn’t such a huge change as to what will happen vis-a-vis the black market,” she said. “The black market always finds a way around.”

“I understand your concern and it’s ours too, and I think it’s what made us debate most. In an ideal world, you will provide a different way of obtaining [cannabis] and you move away from the black market but there are various examples which show that the black market finds a way.”

Questioned about this stance, Buttigieg suggested black market operators may try to undercut the upcoming cannabis associations by offering weed at a cheaper price, or selling a “stronger” version.

“They’ll definitely find a way, the black market always finds a way,” she insisted.

The landmark bill, which now only needs one final parliamentary vote to pass into law, will allow NGOs to set up cannabis associations and people to grow up to four plants at home.

People will be able to carry up to seven grams of cannabis on their person with the police unable to arrest or interrogate them unless they have a reasonable suspicion that trafficking is involved.

A new Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis will also be set up and people convicted of cannabis-related crimes that are no longer criminal will be able to get these details expunged from their criminal record.

Buttigieg insisted that the PN’s opposition to the bill should not be interpreted as a sign that they’re in favour of the status quo, whereby police are empowered to interrogate all cannabis users for up to 48 hours and haul them in front of a tribunal, where they can face fines.

“It’s the 2015 [drug decriminalisation law] which needs to be tweaked and this procedure needs to be fixed,” she said. “It’s not about humiliating people, absolutely not, and we’re not in favour of that.”

“We’re not in favour of the status quo, but the solution isn’t a law that has thrown everything at one go and it’s like a menu of things that can be done. I disagree with this style and the way the government is doing it.”

Do you agree with the upcoming cannabis reform? 

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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