Psychotherapist to head Malta's new cannabis authority

Former Caritas drug rehab coordinator, Mariella Dimech, chosen to head new cannabis authority

Psychotherapist Mariella Dimech is the first head of the cannabis authority
Psychotherapist Mariella Dimech is the first head of the cannabis authority

Malta’s new cannabis authority has been formed with psychotherapist Mariella Dimech, a former Caritas drug rehab coordinator, appointed as the first executive chairperson.

The Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis was part of the law approved last month by which adults are allowed to possess up to 7g of cannabis, grow four plants at home and buy the stuff from regulated clubs. The authority will regulate the sector, including the clubs.

Dimech was appointed for a three-year term. She heads a board that also includes, criminologist Janice Formosa Pace as deputy chairperson, Nadine Brincat, Sina Bugeja, Marius Caruana, Charles Cassar, Gabriel Farrugia, Paul Micallef and Charles Scerri.

The appointments were made by Equality Minister Owen Bonnici, who piloted cannabis legalisation.

Dimech is a psychotherapist by profession and worked with Caritas for 21 years, half of which she served as coordinator of all drug rehabilitation programmes and services. For six years, she ran the San Blas Therapeutic Community.

Janice Formosa Pace is a lecturer within the Department of Youth and Community Studies at the University of Malta. She has a doctorate in criminology.

Nadine Brincat is a psychotherapist, who also worked for a number of years with Caritas as a psychotherapist for individuals or groups in the field of addictions.

Sina Bugeja was CEO of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services, Executive Director of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality and CEO of Sedqa. 

Marius Caruana is a medical doctor, with a specialisation in family medicine.
He is also the lead doctor within the Ħal Far Immigration Reception Centre and the Migrant Health Services. He is a member on the Committee for the Prevention of Torture or Punishment within the Council of Europe.

Charles Cassar is a psychotherapist and president of the Malta Association of Psychotherapy and vice-president of the European Association for Psychotherapy, among other positions. 

Gabriel Farrugia is a lawyer whose main areas of current practice are civil, public procurement and commercial law.

Paul Micallef is a clinical psychologist with a specialisation in addictions.

Charles Scerri is the current director at Sedqa within the Foundation for Social Welfare Services. 

Joe Reno Vella, a lawyer, will be serving as board secretary.