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Update 2 | Muscat calls for 'national discussion' on recreational marijuana, Busuttil wants informed debate

Late Friday evening, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insisted that the discussion on recreational marijuana could no longer be postponed • Opposition leader Simon Busuttil later called for informed discussion based on scientific research

tim_diacono yannick_pace
Tim Diacono / Yannick Pace
5 May 2017, 9:09pm
Last updated on 6 May 2017, 9:57am
PL, PN and PD have suddenly come out in favour of legalising marijuana
PL, PN and PD have suddenly come out in favour of legalising marijuana
A Labour government would initiate discussions on the use of cannabis for recreational use, eventually leading to its regularisation and taking it out of the hands of drug traffickers, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Friday night.

Late in the evening during an interview on ONE TV, the Labour leader also said that the party wanted to initiate a discussion on whether prostitution should be regularised – the main area of concern being that women in prostitution are treated as slaves with no rights whatsoever.

The Labour Party is not alone in calling for a national discussion on the regularisation of cannabis. Both the Nationalist Party and the Partit Demokratiku are calling for a debate, seemingly making the three parties in favour of legalising recreational cannabis.

In comments to MaltaToday, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil called for a discussion based on scientific research, which would in turn provide an informed decision on its possible implementation.

During his comments on ONE TV, Muscat said: “We need to look at models adopted by countries such as Canada and Portugal. If you ask me for my personal opinion, I would tell you that, as a father, I'm torn about it as I'm wary that marijuana could act as a gateway drug. However, the current system favours criminals and it would be far better to have controls over its distribution."

“I don’t feel like I’m in a position to make a unilateral decision, but neither do I want to shy away from the issue. We need to have a mature debate, leading to implementation.”

He also acknowledged that some members of the police force had not yet fully understood the recent change in the law that saw marijuana decriminalised: “You still get instances were a youth is caught with a joint and a show is made of him.”

On his part, Busuttil said: "On such sensitive matters, all parents are naturally concerned and therefore it is important that we get it right."

This stand is also supported by the Partit Demokratiku and its leader Marlene Farrugia.

 

Before the Nationalist Party had commented on the matter, Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi came out against Muscat's call, describing it as "disgusting opportunism...the fruit of desperation".

"This is no longer politics," he said in a Facebook post. 

Muscat called for a debate on legalising prostitution to counter human traffickers
Muscat called for a debate on legalising prostitution to counter human traffickers
Former finance minister Tonio Fenech, who will not be contesting this year's elections, came out strongly against any idea that supports the legislation: "Legalising marijuana will not eliminate drug traffickers. It will make it legal for them to destroy our children. Hands off our Kids.

'Debate on legalising prostitution'

In his interview, Muscat also called for a discussion on the legalisation of prostitution. 

He said that while the issue was a controversial one, and one that could cost him at the polls, Malta could no longer close its eyes to the fact that it is consistently named a country human trafficking of women takes place, especially from Eastern Europe.

“We shouldn’t let criminals abuse of people and essentially enslave them,” he argued, adding that he would be proposing public consultation of ways for the regularisation of the industry to be implemented.

He also said that following the introduction of civil unions during the last legislature, it was now time for this to become full marriage.
“Nothing will change, except the name,” he said. “Now that we have seen that civil unions did not bring about the end of the world, simply calling it a marriage will not be anything out of the ordinary.”

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...