[WATCH] Malta drug report: Cannabis, cocaine usage up, decrease in heroin users

Social Solidarity Minister Michael Falzon says government is looking at a harm reduction approach in a White Paper on cannabis regularisation

Cannabis use has been on the rise, according to the latest drug statistics for Malta
Cannabis use has been on the rise, according to the latest drug statistics for Malta

The use of cannabis and cocaine in Malta has increased, while the abuse of heroin has gone down, a report published on Friday shows.

The statistics form part of the National Report on the Drug Situation in Malta for the year 2020.

Cannabis is the most frequently seized drug by the police, with the substance being the only illicit drug known to be produced in the country. Resin is also imported from Morocco via Tunisia and Libya.

Among people seeking treatment for drug addiction, cannabis continues to be the third most used primary drug. In 2018, a substantial increase of people seeking treatment was registered, with 13% (251 individuals) reporting the use of cannabis as their primary drug. 

The trend continued in 2019, with 14% of all treatment entrants registered for cannabis use.

Drug related emergencies at the Drug Dependency Unit and the emergency ward at Mater Dei Hospital went down decreased. 

Drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic 

An analysis of drug use during the coronavirus pandemic showed that users still abused of drugs at their households. 

The drug supply was also moderately affected, with the importation of the substances taking place via boats, ships and cargo vessels since air space was closed. 

The report also list the importation of drugs through the postal services as another route. Only last week, customs and police apprehended someone who imported drugs from the UK using the postal service.

Cannabis White Paper 

Social Solidarity Minister Michael Falzon said the government was seeking “a harm reduction” approach in a yet to be published White Paper on cannabis regularisation.

He said the White Paper will serve to take on board recommendations and suggestions of stakeholders but noted that government had already shown the direction it intended to take when decriminalising cannabis in 2015.

“While we have to see, what happened in other countries like Norway, where personal use has given positive results, we need to find a model which fits Malta… We need to see harm reduction to both society, and the individual user,” Falzon said.

Asked whether the country is looking at making income through taxes from the sale of cannabis, Falzon said that is not a priority in the reform.