A few days ago the Maltese Government proposed a number of new measures about the use of recreational cannabis in our country. Many were those who welcomed these proposals while others, including a number of entities like Caritas and Oasi clearly stated that they do not agree.
Invited as a guest on Popolin, Dr Mario Thomas Vassallo, an academic at the Faculty of Economics said that although he agrees with decriminalisation he does not agree with legalising cannabis. “I do not agree because the White Paper is not clear at all. There is a lot of inconsistency and there is certain information which has not emerged, including the commercial aspect.”
He added that there is no indication of who will be allowed to sell this substance, and in what way it will be sold. He believes that the main thoughts behind this legislation are to create an economic niche to generate more money for the Government and increase tourism. He asked for this information to be clarified to the public so that it will be made aware of the method in which cannabis can be sold with the eventuality of decriminalising and legalising it.
Also present during the programme was John Ellul, a criminologist and part of a working group which drafted the proposals, who discussed the position of the Government on the responsible use of recreational cannabis. In a heated discussion between the guests a number of questions were answered about the various possible scenarios.
He added that the Government knows that those who wish to use this substance in a responsible way should be given this space in a safe environment. He added that our country has long held a stigma about this subject and people have been punished because they chose to use cannabis responsibly.
“Today it no longer makes sense that without any reasonable suspicion one is arrested just because you have cannabis.” He said that the White Paper is giving direction where the Government want to go, however it is open for public consultation so that all those who wish to voice their views on this subject can do so in the most open and transparent way possible.
In fact, he also invited Dr. Vassallo to participate in this consultation. Ellul said that before the White Paper was published extensive discussions were held with all interested parties, including with people who use cannabis. “Decriminalisation is being carried out to address trafficking, which brings with it several problems because those who use, do not have any guarantee that they are buying safe, quality products,” he concluded.
The public consultation closed on 11 May of this year. A call was made by MCESD for discussion on this subject to be left until after the general elections so that the risk of partisanship is reduced.