A court decision that took 20 years to be delivered over 0.02g of cannabis is being called out for its atrocious approach to justice.
The man in question, who is now 63-years-old, spent 20 years with this case hanging over his head just to finally be told he will not be sent to prison for six months over the measly amount.
“Why do we continue to play dangerous and costly games with innocent people’s lives? When will this atrocious and draconian approach to the consumption, cultivation and sharing of cannabis stop?” cannabis lobby group ReLeaf said in a strong statement.
“We have frequently heard representatives from Caritas Malta and OASI Foundation Foundation repeat that no one ever went to prison for a joint and that the proposed grams and allowance to grow cannabis will result in the dismantling of society,” they said.
“Yet, they so conveniently omit to mention similar cases, dragging on for years and robbing the person of very basic and fundamental needs; justice and freedom.”
The case revolves around a Rabat man who was caught growing one cannabis plant. He was charged with cultivation back in 17th April, 2001.
He admitted to the charge and in 2009, was sentenced to six months in prison and to pay a fine of Lm250 (€466).
He appealed the sentence, and now, Judge Consuela Scerri Herrera noted the “exaggerated” time to have a sentence delivered.
Police had taken 18 months to arraign the man, and a further seven years passed before a sentence was given… even though he had pled guilty early on.
His subsequent appeal then took 11 years before the Criminal Appeals Court finally heard his case.
Though let free, the 63-year-old man was still asked to pay €466 in court expenses.
Since then, Malta’s legal system has progressed regards cannabis laws, with decriminalisation of the plant occurring in 2015. Just this year, the government even proposed the legalisation of the cultivation of four cannabis plants.
In recent years, a spotlight has been aimed squarely on delays in court that are leading to major miscarriages of justice.
One Maltese youth, Mason Nehls, has spent 11 years waiting for his court case to end. Another man has spent no less than 15 years being churned through the courts before being awarded €10,000 in moral damages due to the delays.
Both cases involved drug trafficking charges.