Activist group Moviment Graffitti has called on the Maltese government to resist the urge to give in to employers’ demands for them to be allowed to test employees for cannabis use while reiterating its support for its proposed reform.
With the second reading of the groundbreaking Bill – which proposed legalising personal possession of up to 7g of cannabis – completed, it will now move to the committee stage of the parliamentary process.
The committee stage will see MPs run through the Bill’s details, with MPs from both sides of the House having the opportunity to propose changes.
In a statement this morning, the activist group called for an end to the stigmatisation of cannabis users and and end to the misinformation and stigmatisation campaigns by detractors of the reform.
“Unfortunately, the debate has seen more and more wild claims being bandied about in the media, with certain organisations quoting statistics that do not exist, or simply twisting facts,” the group said.
“The narrative that cannabis users resort to smoking as a result of their failings, or those of society, is patronising and dehumanising. Recreational cannabis use is not an aberration but a choice, in the same way, people choose to consume tobacco, alcohol or meat.”
It also rubbished claims that cannabis was a gateway drug, insisting that the hypothesis had been “debunked time and time again by proper scientific studies”.
The group also referred to a recent statement by the Malta Employers Association, which called for a “zero-tolerance” approach and regular testing of staff.
“We find it strange that the MEA is proposing a zero-tolerance approach towards a substance about which it knows nothing. Cannabis remains in the blood for a number of weeks, therefore such tests can never reveal if someone has consumed it right before going to work or at the workplace itself. Is the MEA proposing that nobody can use cannabis in their free time?”
“Besides this attempt at restricting workers’ quality time, the tests themselves are an invasive measure which will hinder employees’ peace of mind. Government should be wary of giving in to the MEA’s wild demands, which would create a situation where fewer people are going to prison whilst giving employers the power to restrict the freedoms and dignity of their workers.”
The group said the proposed reform was a substantial improvement over the White Paper proposed in April while expressing its satisfaction with the fact that smokers would no longer be “arrested, searched or otherwise harassed”.
“The proposed law’s main aim is to regulate an existing market of cannabis users, who will now be given the possibility to buy their product from safer sources, without fear of being hassled by the authorities, and without having to turn to the illicit market,” it said.
“We are completely in favour of the idea that drug users should no longer go to prison, especially considering the stories coming out of Corradino in the last two years.”
Finally, the group called on Reforms Minister Owen Bonnici to set up a strong independent regulatory authority, insisting that the reform could only be as good as the authority overseeing it.
Do you agree with Moviment Graffitti’s position?