Cannabis lobby group wants audit of Caritas rehab services

Cannabis lobby group Releaf say government action on how to better understand the operations and spending of rehab organisations needs to be carried out 

File photo
File photo

Cannabis lobby group Releaf have called for a government audit into the therapy practices used by groups like Caritas Malta.

“This is a serious matter and one which requires urgent Government action to better understand how these organisations operate and spend their government sourced funding,” it said in a Facebook post.

In an interview with The Malta Independent, Caritas Malta director Anthony Gatt said that since the possession and use of cannabis was legalised, “more significant repercussions” were being observed by the organisation, and its “negative effects” are already being noticed.

“It has become difficult for users who have become dependent on cannabis to realise the repercussions it causes and reach out for help, as their defence now is that there is nothing wrong with it because it is ‘legal’,” he said.

He also went on to say that a dependent user will now take longer to “hit rock bottom” and suffer health consequences.

Releaf has hit back by saying the article is “exposing a dangerous reality of an NGO providing therapy, and at the same time it seems, wanting the law to expose people to health harms and other legal risks.”

“This is an outright denial of harm reduction practices and a direct affront to the core principles of a humane drug policy reform,” it said. “Caritas has just confirmed that a human rights-based approach, therefore prioritising the well-being of cannabis users has never been on their political agenda.”

The lobby group said it was “sickening” to learn that groups protecting and helping addicts, “wants them to hit rock bottom.” It said government action on how to better understand the operations and spending of these organisations needs to be carried out.

“Has there ever been national auditing on the type of therapy used? And if this is in line with European, WHO and UN standards?” it asked in the Facebook post. “Has Caritas been 'labelling people as dependent' only because they consume a substance which they oppose?”

Releaf said the organisation should dialogue with people using cannabis, “instead of pushing them into a pit of doom, only to scoop them back up with forced therapy.”