[WATCH] PM: Cannabis law a ‘second chance’ for individuals who are not criminals

Prime Minister Robert Abela insists government is taking a ‘harm-reduction’ approach, and new legislation will not incentivise cannabis use

Prime Minister Robert Abela has said the new cannabis laws address modern realities, and seek to give people a second chance.

“We had people who are not criminals, but are treated as such, after getting caught with just a joint,” he said.

The Labour leader was speaking during an interview on party radio station ONE Radio.

He said the law takes a harm reduction approach. “We could have closed our eyes, and said these realities do not exist.”

“We are government which wants to create opportunities, not supress them. With a tarnished police conduct your progress in life is halted, especially when you are faced with drug charges,” Abela said.

He said government wanted to strike a balance, and insisted the new legislation will not incentivise cannabis use among the community. “We want to give adolescents a second chance, we wanted to give people a second chance at reforming themselves.”

He also hit out at the opposition’s “inconsistency” when speaking on the subject.

“First they told us we didn’t consult publicly, then they told us we copied them, and then they went against their previous position and came out against it,” he said. “I would have understood changes on certain details, but to flip flop on such an important issue? I can’t understand that.”

COVID-19

Speaking on the COVID-19 pandemic, the PM reiterated previous statements on how “good decisions” led to Malta being in advantageous position at this moment during the pandemic.

“In countries where vaccination rates are low, we are seeing government impose new restrictions on people,” he said.

He insisted on how crucial it is for government to take the “immediate decisions”.

“For example, when news came out of the new COVID-19 variant, we didn’t hesitate to stop arrivals from African nations,” he said.

Abela said infection and hospital admission rates have remained stable, calling on people to take the booster dose when it is made available to them.

Environment

On the environment, the PM insisted recent measures and projects are showing the government’s priorities when working on the sector.

“We concede that we should have done better during previous years, but it is crucial we continue to work on the sector for the sake of a better quality of life for people,” he said.

He also mentioned a number of environmental measures laid out in the Budget 2022.