The President of the Republic George Vella has rejected calls for him not to sign a law that will legalise the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.
The president was speaking in Gozo during an event to commemorate Republic Day, where he spoke about a range of subjects including calls by those opposing the reform for him not to sign the Bill into law.
He emphasised that his role in a parliamentary democracy such as Malta was not to decide for himself whether or not to sign a Bill into the law.
“The head of state cannot capriciously create a constitutional crisis and cause instability… there is nothing in our Constitution that gives the president the final say on a law, otherwise we’d create a dictator who decides what becomes law at their own whims,” the President said.
The president, he said, did not have a role as the highest authority in the country and did not have executive government bestowed on the government.
“The nation delegates its power to members of Parliament for them to represent them in our country’s highest institution,” Vella said.
While he did not mention the cannabis reform directly, he emphasised that the president’s role was not to wake up in the morning and decide if he agrees with one thing or another.
“Parliament is the place where the laws of the country are made…It adopts laws that have been promised to the people and which those same people have given it the power to implement,” he said, adding that the President needed to sign all approved Bills “almost immediately”
Malta’s Parliament this week approved a law legalising the possession of up to 7g of cannabis and the cultivation of up to four plants for each person in their home with the government voting in favour and the Opposition against.
In the run-up to the vote, there were various calls by those opposed to the reform for Vella not to sign the Bill.
Vella stressed that a President could not choose not to sign a law unless they had a serious moral obligation, in which case they were obliged to step down and let someone else pass the law.
This is a reference to abortion, which Vella has in the past said he would refuse to sign off on.
He has said that should he be presented with an abortion Bill, he would immediately resign because of his own moral conviction.
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