PN drags feet on cannabis reform

Justice ministry’s legalisation Bill expected in coming weeks but PN position yet to be formulated

The Nationalist Party has so far been unable to formulate a political response to a White Paper on the legalisation of recreational cannabis and home-growing.

Having already dubbed Labour’s policy as just a “vote-winning exercise”, the PN’s working group on cannabis reform is however still discussing its position, a party spokesperson said.

The group is stil holding meetings with interested parties are still ongoing, “following additional requests by stakeholders to form part of the PN’s consultation process.”

“The scope of the working group is to lead a wide consultation process with all the stakeholders which will eventually sustain the arguments which the Opposition will put forward once the Bill is presented to Parliament for discussion,” the spokesperson said.

The PN’s working group includes lawyer Martina Caruana, MPs Claudio Grech, Claudette Buttigieg, Karl Gouder, Therese Comodini Cachia and Stephen Spiteri, as well as the presidents of youth organs Team Start, Eve Borg Bonello, and MZPN, Joseph Grech.

Although hardly a main issue in Maltese politics, the PN’s position on cannabis will be a test for a party that has historically struggled to chip away at its conservative shell on such issues.

Both the Labour Party and ADPD have made their positions known on the issue, calling for the regulation and legalisation of cannabis.

The White Paper’s public consultation process has already saw 350 submissions from various organisations and individuals.

The proposed policy is for the full decriminalisation of cannabis possession up to 7g, for personal use, and for prosecutions on amounts over 7g but less than 28g, to take place before the Commissioner of Justice, rather than a criminal court.

Residential homes will also be allowed to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household, apart from the expungement of cannabis-related criminal records.

The Justice Ministry said that government is currently analysing the feedback received through the public consultation.

“These submissions will inform the legislative amendments, the main principles of which were of course proposed in the White Paper.”

The ministry said a Bill will take form in the coming weeks.