Call to amend cannabis reform Bill ignored, 53 organisations lament

Organisations, including Caritas, say a petition to discuss amendments to the cannabis reform Bill has been ignored by Petitions Committee chair Joe Mizzi

Malta is expected to allow the recreational use of cannabis (File photo)
Malta is expected to allow the recreational use of cannabis (File photo)

The Chairman of the Petitions Committee in Parliament, Joe Mizzi, has ignored organisations' requests for a petition calling for amendments to the cannabis reform bill to be discussed.

A vote on the legislation will take place in parliament this afternoon, and the organisations have raised the alarm that there was not enough time for the petition to be discussed.

The letter, which was signed by 53 organisations and individuals, including Caritas and president emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, said that as of Tuesday at 10am they had yet to receive a reply to the letter sent to Mizzi and the members of the Petitions Committee of Parliament to close the petition proposing amendments to the cannabis law so that they can be discussed by the committee.

According to guidelines, when an online petition is created, It is automatically open to signatures for a period of sixty days. In the event of a wish to shorten or extend this period, a request shall be made to the Committee on Petitions. The Committee may decide to call on the petitioner to appear before the Committee.

It may also request that the petitioner make a brief presentation and answer any questions from the same committee members.

A petitioner summoned to appear before the Committee may request to be assisted by another person, who may intervene only with the permission of the Committee.

In the letter, the entities called for the guidelines to be implented in order to close the petition so that it could be discussed by the committee.

“In this way, the petition could be discussed before the third reading of the law. It is clear that the Government will ignore this request and pass the law in a rushed manner and without any real consultation with the many stakeholders who have spoken out,” the statement said.

The petition had already been signed by 9,375 people. Signatures include psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, constituted bodies, NGOs that work in the field of prevention and treatment.

“If this law is passed, it will have severe consequences for the mental health of many young people and adults and will promote a culture of drug use. While all organisations are in favour of decriminalising cannabis users, they disagree with normalising the use of cannabis,” it said.