Caritas urged the Maltese authorities to strongly monitor medical marijuana producing companies when they start setting up shop on the island.
In a position paper on a Bill that will see Malta welcome this new industry, the Church-run charity organisation urged the authorities to ensure that the industry abides by strict regulations and that its staff pass through a rigorous screening process.
It also said the law must specifically only allow the production of marijuana for medical, and not recreational, purposes.
“Malta must be safeguarded against the risks that cannabis, like all other medicines, can bring about if it us used wrongly.”
Caritas said there is ample research which proves medical marijuana can alleviate pain, but warned Maltese patients not to consider it as a “magic pill” solution to ailments.
Three foreign companies, including Canadian giant Nuuvera, have already signalled their intent to set up medical marijuana production plants in Malta. Economy minister Chris Cardona said yesterday the companies plan to invest a total of €57 million and create 118 new jobs.
Opposition leader Adrian Delia came out strongly against the Bill though, arguing that its legal wording could open the door for factories to start producing marijuana for recreational purposes.
“The Prime Minister has said that discussion on medical marijuana should be decoupled from discussion on recreational marijuana, but the Bill doesn’t make this distinction,” he said last night.
However, the Opposition will vote in favour of a second Bill, which will loosen Malta’s medical marijuana laws so as to allow family doctors to prescribe the drug to patients.
Caritas Right of Reply
Caritas never declared itself ‘in favour’ or ‘not against’ Malta becoming an international centre for the production of medical marijuana.
On Monday, the very same day when the Parliament discussed the 2nd Reading of the bill, we have circulated a position paper (amongst MPs only, not the media) arguing that we are “in favour of the use of medical cannabis for specific therapeutic indications that are supported by robust research”.
On Monday’s position we have recommended that, ad verbatim, “that legislation in relation to the production of medical cannabis does have the necessary and adequate safeguards delineated in a detailed manner, to protect the community at large from mismanagement and leakage of cannabis in unsafe hands to the detriment of our community.
Such safeguards, amongst others, relate to the location, security, due diligence of companies running such establishments, the initial and ongoing vetting processes in the recruitment of employees (example: precluding persons who have a history of a substance abuse/dependence problem or persons with a history of drug trafficking), the setting up of a national agency to monitor and ascertain that international conventions and standards are being adhered to”. In conclusion, we argued, that we remain hopeful that no undue pressure is exerted to widen the scope of this legislation.