David Caruana, a long-standing spokesman for the decriminalisation of cannabis in Malta has said that Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) was wrong not to join the PN/PD coalition, and that without them in the mix “the likelihood of ever getting cannabis legalised is extremely low, if not impossible”.
In a letter written to the party just one week after the general election was announced, Caruana lamented AD’s ultimate decision to not form part of the PN/PD coalition, and cited it as the main reason why he would not be running under the Green Party’s ticket.
Caruana has been an active campaigner for the decriminalisation of marijuana for many years, and in his letter, he outlined how a coalition including AD could have been a positive and tangible step towards decriminalisation.
His letter outlined a few points on why Caruana believes AD should have joined the coalition.
1. They could have played a bigger role in calling out institutional corruption
“The fact that our institutions have been manipulated for so long requires AD to be an active participant in stopping all this,” Caruana wrote. “the FIAU [has] acted as it was supposed to however no action was taken by the police […] – the same authorities which are too keen to prosecute someone growing his own medicine”.
“Let’s face it, if we’re ever to govern it would have to be in a coalition”
2. AD could have finally had a chance to govern
“The electoral metrics are what they are, and for once, we are being given the opportunity by a big party to turn these in our favour and be in that coalition government you all have worked so hard for,” Caruana stated in his letter to the party. “Let’s face it, if we’re ever to govern it would have to be in a coalition”.
3. The party’s identity wouldn’t have been threatened
Although this was the ultimate deciding factor as to why AD did not join the coalition, Caruana believes that the decision was short-sighted. “This would be the perfect Trojan tactic [for AD] to win an otherwise impossible-to-win game. Once we’re in, we’re out of the horse and we are AD again. Once in, our identity is back and we vote according to our values and present bills that are built on such values.”
“I have voted and supported AD for almost a decade. [The party’s values] will not be lost by Arnold standing next to Simon and Marlene. They actually strengthen AD’s image for a pluralistic government,” Caruana said.
“This would be the perfect Trojan tactic to win an otherwise impossible-to-win game”
4. A meaningful discussion on legalisation could have been created
Caruana’s greatest point of regret was that without the coalition AD would have far less ability to steer the discussion on the recreational use of marijuana. “After experiencing how the last drug reform was handled – great form, little substance – I find it hard to trust a Labour government with such a delicate reform,” Caruana wrote. “I would rather have a situation where an AD and a PD MP present a bill in Parliament, create discussion, seek consensus”.
5. AD in the coalition could have targeted an important part of the electorate
“One needs to keep in mind the haemorrhage the PN had four year ago, and how many of those [voters] would wish to vote PN again but would prefer to do so indirectly,” Caruana wrote. “I have been gauging the general feeling on the streets and I met too many people who would have no problem to give their [number one] to AD members if they are on a PN ticket.”
Caruana’s letter was sent a week before the nominations at the electoral office closed. He has not heard back from the party as yet.
The long-time campaigner believes that a serious drug reform is still due for Malta, and that what has already happened “was simply an aesthetic one”.
“After the so-called reform, people are still kept in lock-up for up to 48 hours, Caruana told Lovin Malta. “Sharing of drugs and cultivation of more than one plant still carries a mandatory prison sentence”.
A couple of months ago a Maltese magistrate spoke out in favour of changing certain “draconian” drug laws, and last year Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, said he thinks there’s a “disconnect” between drug decriminalisation law and how the police are currently handling cannabis. Most recently, both major parties – including the PN/PD coalition – came out in favour of initiating the discussion on the decriminalisation of recreational cannabis in Malta.