A whopping majority of 66.6% disagree with making it legal for adults to use cannabis recreationally, a stark difference from the wide support decriminalising the drug received back in 2014.
A survey carried out by MaltaToday explored whether people support legalisation of recreational cannabis among adults, and whether they believed it causes more harm than alcohol does.
Younger people are found to be generally more open to the idea, however not to the extent which many would have imagined. A total of 38.1% of those ages 18-35 agree with its legalisation, and an absolute majority at 57.1% are against it. Roughly a quarter of those aged 51-65, at 14.9% agree with legalisation, while predictably this figure drops to 8.1% by those ages 65 and over.
A survey by MaltaToday back in 2014 when Parliament was debating a White Paper on decriminalising small quantities of cannabis, among other drugs, found that a majority of 51.2% of respondents agreed with this move. This suggests that Maltese are sympathetic towards cannabis users receiving harsh treatment when found with small quantities of the substance, but most are not willing to make the leap towards supporting full legalisation.
Another statistic which is in line with trends outside of Malta found that men are generally more likely to support legalisation.
The survey found that 29.5% of men supported this move compared with just 17.7% of women. A staggering 72.8% of women were found to be against legalisation. More men admitted to using cannabis than women, while educational background of either gender does not appear to have been a factor.
While the survey found no significant differences in education level and cannabis use, a Lovin Malta poll, where 1,197 people responded in less than 48 hours, found that over half respondents who use cannabis, at 54%, had a tertiary level education. The Lovin Malta poll also found that one in four of respondents who use cannabis had sold the substance at some point in their lives.
Just 9.3% of total respondents admitted to using cannabis in their life-time, a difficult-to-believe statistic, especially when considering how this figure jumps to 29.3% when respondents were asked whether they knew anybody uses cannabis.
There was no stark difference when comparing geographic location. The Southern Harbour district was found to be the most open towards legalising cannabis, at 31.9%. The Northern Harbour are the most opposed, with 73.3% being against the move.
Less surprisingly considering the pledge to discuss cannabis legislation in the Labour Party 2017 electoral manifesto, Labour voters were almost twice as likely to support legalisation than Nationalist voters, at 27.1% and 14.5% respectively.
When respondents were asked whether they believe cannabis causes more harm than alcohol, the replies were far more varied. A total of 36.1% believe it causes more harm than alcohol, 16.8% believe it causes less harm, 24.1% say that the harm is equal while 22.9% could not say either way.
MaltaToday carried out its survey between 21 and 28 January, with 597 respondents opting to complete it. Random sampling based on gender, region and age was used to reflect Malta’s demographics. An estimated margin of error of 5% is present for a confidence interval of 95%.