Maltese patients are being refused access to medical cannabis due to medical interventions they had in the past, including attending rehabailiation or detox.
Some of these interventions occurred up to ten to fifteen years ago, yet are affecting patients’ ability to obtain their medicine in till this day.
“When I got to the end of my application, I was told that people who used to be on methadone would be refused medical cannabis,” Joe* told Lovin Malta.
Joe, like other patients, was refused due to having “a history of drug abuse”.
When he was young, he was “a bit crazy and stupid”, but today he has a wife and children, and says he has moved on with his life. However, when he was told he couldn’t access medicine because of his past, he was left confused.
“It’s not nice that because of your past you are treated like this,” he says. “I want to do everything clean and according to the law… I’ve been dealing with the black market for years, and I am trying to do it the legal way now, but it looks like, unfortunately for now, I’ll have to continue.”
“In Malta we are like that though, you get treated differently because of your past.”
After being refused legal medical help under Maltese law, Joe has been forced to turn back to the black market to self-medicate.
“What can we do, if I don’t smoke I don’t sleep,” he says of his own and other patients situations.
“It keeps me calm and keeps me away from alcohol and everything else… I haven’t touched anything apart from cannabis for 12 years now. But now I’m back in the black market, and you need to be so careful out here because not everyone is giving you good stuff, it’s not tested like the medical cannabis,” he said.
Dr Andrew Agius, who treats patients at the Pain Clinic, said the way some of these vulnerable patients were being treated was unfair.
“It’s sad that patients are being refused a medicine that they genuinely need because they attended detox some ten to fifteen years ago,” Agius said. “It could be that their drug problem was another way of coping with their pain.”
He lamented the generalisation being made by authorities in regards to these patients.
“Unfortunately, many patients with a history of addiction problems have real medical issues and medical cannabis allows them to cope and live normal lives. Hopefully, one day more doctors will realise how much safer this medicine is compared to methadone and other opiates offered by detox,” he continued.
“One step forward for Malta, ten steps backwards” – patient who was refused medical cannabis.
With patients who were previously accepted for medical cannabis now reportedly being refused their medicine, Joe wonders why access to this medicine isn’t equal for all.
“The law is supposed to be for everyone. Everyone has the right to take medicine, and not be refused because of his past – even if he was in prison – if he needs that medicine. Everyone should be treated the same,” said Joe.
* Names have been changed.