Raymond* was worried that the authorities would be coming after his driving license when he applied for medical cannabis – but he never expected to be barred from applying just because he is currently undergoing a court case.
Raymond has been suffering from chronic back pain for years, and has tried countless medicines. He was hopeful that medical cannabis could be used to treat his pain, which seems to come and go unexpectedly.
When he approached a doctor to apply for medical cannabis, he was told that “for now, they are not accepting applications for patients with a criminal record.”
The thing is, Raymond doesn’t even have a criminal record – his police conduct is totally clean.
Raymond is now wondering if he could be denied access to medical cannabis due to having an ongoing court case.
“Last night, I ended up on morphine again because of my back,” a bedridden Raymond told Lovin Malta. “I couldn’t even breathe or walk.”
Raymond had been caught with a number of joints over seven years ago – and like many cases in Malta, his case has been ongoing for years
“I was caught 7 years ago with cannabis. I do not have a criminal record, my case is still open, there is nothing in my police conduct, and I couldn’t even walk because of the pain yesterday, yet I can’t even apply for the medical cannabis?” he lamented.
A doctor who spoke to Lovin Malta said that, technically, the patients could still apply.
“They can apply – but the Superintendent of Health will alert the doctor and advise accordingly,” they said. They also said that if a doctor does not know a patient, and the patient turns out to have a criminal record or an ongoing court case, the doctor will be less inclined to recommend the patient for medical cannabis.
This is due to Maltese law putting an unusually heavy burden on the doctor prescribing cannabis, forcing the doctor to vouch for the patient’s behaviour, and to suffer if the patient is caught abusing his medicine.
Since Raymond was arraigned in 2011, Malta decriminalised cannabis for personal use, and legalised it for medical use just this year. However, as Raymond was caught prior to the change in law with cannabis, ironically, he is now being barred from accessing it medicinally.
*Names have been changed