PN MPs told to deflect questions on whether cannabis reform will be repealed if in power

Nationalist MPs are told that any final party stand on whether the cannabis law would be kept or repealed by a PN government has yet to be taken

PN has no position yet on whether it will repeal cannabis reform law of in government
PN has no position yet on whether it will repeal cannabis reform law of in government

Nationalist MPs have been instructed to deflect questions on whether a future government will repeal the cannabis reform since the matter remains undecided, MaltaToday has learnt. 

After the conclusion of the Second Reading on the cannabis reform Bill on Monday, PN MPs were informed of the party’s official line to take when asked whether the law will be repealed if elected to power. 

MPs have been instructed to say they will be focusing on amendments to the law at committee stage.They were also told that a final party stand on whether the cannabis law would be kept or repealed by a PN government had yet to be taken. 

The message is a clear indication that the PN will hold on to the end before committing itself wholly against the cannabis regularisation Bill. 

The proposed law has divided the PN and by the time that the Second Reading concluded in parliament on Monday, Bernard Grech had not spoken.

READ ALSO: Cannabis reform edges closer as PN votes against in conclusion of second reading

The Opposition voted against the Bill, which now goes to committee stage where individual clauses will be discussed. 

Under the proposed Bill, people over 18 will be able to carry 7g of cannabis without criminal sanction. For amounts above 7g and below 28g the person could face charges in front of a tribunal with a proportional fine. 

However, any person with up to 28g of cannabis will not be arrested unless there is strong and reasonable suspicion of trafficking. The reform will also allow people to grow up to four plants at home. 

Opposition social affairs spokesperson Claudette Buttigieg, who kicked off the PN’s reaction during the Second Reading, could not say what amendments the party would put forward at committee stage. 

“We don’t always put in our amendments to the Bill itself, but we always look to contribute with advice on the issues being discussed, and that is what we will do,” she said.  

The MP said the Opposition is currently voicing the opinions and concerns of NGOs and experts.  

“It’s not an issue of amendments, our responsibility doesn’t stop there. We will discuss any changes brought forward at committee stage,” Buttigieg said.  

She also pointed out that both the health and social justice ministers did not speak during the Second Reading of the debate. “That is unheard of,” she insisted. 

“Not a single doctor MP from the government side spoke during the debate, and that says a lot,” she said. 

Asked whether a PN government will repeal the cannabis law, Buttigieg said making such a commitment would be irresponsible. 

“I cannot commit absolutely. I do not have the final law in my hand, and I don’t know its consequences. To repeal a law is not a light decision, to speak hypothetically would be irresponsible of me. My decision has to be evidence based,” she said. 

Buttigieg also said the minister for reforms must commit to carrying out continuous studies should the Bill be enacted into law. 

“We must know what is going on, and the impact of cannabis on society,” she said.

READ ALSO: Academic ‘surprised’ by PN’s stand against cannabis reform after Bernard Grech’s commitment