WATCH: Medicines Authority Explains Just How Complicated It Is To Access Medical Cannabis In Malta
Was that meant to comfort people, or scare everyone away?
Professor Anthony Serracino Inglott, the Medicine's Authority, gave an interview to ONE News addressing the blowback over Maltese police arresting a 54-year-old medical patient and destroying his medicine, even though Maltese legalised medical cannabis in May.
Saying that industrial companies from all over the world were attracted to Malta due to the country's stellar reputation, lured by the country's new cannabis laws, the Medicines Authority seemed to forget that his first and foremost loyalty should be to sick Maltese patients, and not multinational companies.
In a surreal moment, the professor is asked how a sick Maltese patient can access their medicine.
The answer to this supposedly simple question takes over half a minute to get through, and lays bare the complicated ordeal that Maltese patients have been complaining about for weeks now.
Serracino Inglott jumps into what must be the most long-winded and extra explanation to a simple question to which the answer should really just be: "get a doctor's prescription".
"In Malta, to use cannabis, you need a prescription from a doctor, you need, in short, permission from the superintendent of public health, and you need to have a control card, and the difference (between cannabis) and other controlled medicines, apart from having to get the permission of the superintendent of public health, is that in this case the prescription cannot be given without a license, and it needs to be established that the person needs this medicine because the person tried every other method and the other methods didn't work," he said.
The explanation begins at around 0:30 in the video
Putting money in front of the health of Maltese patients is a bad look for anyone, most of all the Medicines Authority
While Malta has made very commendable steps forward in getting medical cannabis to Maltese patients who need it, it's safe to say that for many people, they've made a mess of it right at the very end, creating a system so restricted as to practically ensure that Maltese patients remain bound to the black market.
It is unfortunate that the health of people who find relief with medicinal cannabis is given such a low priority by both Professor Serracino Inglott as well as the Superindent of Public Health, who are ready to make these ill people jump through myriad legal loopholes and pay a number of fees just to buy legal cannabis that is above black market value.
Then the authorities marvel at why literally hundreds of kilos of cannabis is imported into the Maltese black market every year.
Only a few politicians have publicly expressed their support for cannabis in Malta
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has made his opinion clear, being a major driving force behind Malta's sudden acceptance of the cannabis plant, both for medical purposes and to a lesser extent personal purposes.
Prospective MEP Cyrus Engerer recently made a public stand in favour of cannabis, stating clearly that: "laws introduced on medical marijuana still insufficient to help those most in need."
Laws introduced on medical marijuana still insufficient to help those most in need. Progressive changes need to be made to benefit most vulnerable. It’s also time to start discussing recreational use, as per manifesto. @Releafmalta @LegalizeItMalta https://t.co/6Ss6M7zLjG— Cyrus Engerer (@engerer) August 22, 2018
And Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms Julia Farrugia Portelli, who had little experience when it came to cannabis and its users until recently, has shown a tentative openness to the acceptance of cannabis locally.
Everything happening today in Malta started from a change in drug laws back in 2015
In 2015, Malta decriminalised the personal use of cannabis in amounts smaller than 3.5g, ostensibly rolling out a new era in Maltese drug laws that would differentiate Malta from the rest of the world that was content to continue a failing war on drugs.
And while some Maltese have benefitted from this relaxation in the laws, garnering fines for their personal cannabis use instead of being sent to prison, there have been a number of very worrisome individual cases that indicate a lack of seriousness from the side of the Maltese authorities.
There was the aforementioned Spanish medical patient who had his personal stash of medicine destroyed, was fined €800, and forced to stay in Malta after authorities made him miss his cruise.
There was the French student who got hauled to court and fined €500 over a dirty grinder. That's not even a joke.
With more drugs being imported into Malta than ever, it is the responsibility of the Maltese authorities to stop the black market from expanding, and to regain the trust of Maltese cannabis users.
They need to be seen as reasonable, compassionate, humane, and most of all, not medieval and draconian.
Instead, they are strengthening the black market by forcing patients back to it, making patients feel like criminals when they are already ill, and worst of all, making it as hard as possible for Maltese people to get their hands on some goddamned medicine.