Several NGOs including Caritas that runs a drug rehabilitation centre, have urged for more a more “sensible” debate on recreational marijuana.
Caritas, L-Aġenzija Sedqa, il-Fondazzjoni Oasi and Malta’s Association of Psychiatrists urged against the stigmatisation of people who smoke the plant and reaffirmed that those who do should not have their affect their criminal records or be imprisoned for possession of a light amount.
In a joint statement, they reaffirmed the importance of two laws that eased penalties for using the drug, particularly the 2015 law that favoured rehabilitation instead of prison time for those caught with small amounts for recreational use.
“There needs to be more sensibility towards those who make use of cannabis,” they wrote.
However, they also warned of the normalisation of the drug in Malta’s society.
“From our knowledge of smoking and drinking, we know that when a drug becomes more popular and even legal, there is a tendency that the substance is used more and the negative effects of that increase too.”
This month, Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms Rosianne Cutajar said that though recreational use of the plant was “not yet legal” in Malta, the junior minister is working on proposals for a legislative framework with the view of overcoming the stigma against cannabis smokers.
Meanwhile, Cutajar joined Andrew Bonello from cannabis NGO Releaf on Lovin Malta’s show #CovidCalls to discuss ways Malta can use the local cannabis industry to provide jobs and a much-needed economic boost as one of the ways for the island to beat a COVID-19 economic downturn.
The NGOs however urged against increasing access to the drug.
“We continue to urge that proposed laws do not open the door to increased access to drugs even in legal means, and that the social consequences and disadvantages of this for society’s most vulnerable is considered,” the NGOs said.
“This includes young people, those with dependencies or at risk of dependency on marijuana or other substances, those that may develop paranoia or psychosis or those that may develop motivational syndrome and those with intellectual difficulties.”
What do you think of the NGOs statement?