After cannabis legalisation, Caritas director warns society is prioritising wants over needs

Caritas director Anthony Gatt was speaking during the agency’s annual graduation, which has seen 12 individuals successfully completing the a drug rehab programme

Caritas director Anthony Gatt has warned society is prioritising wants over needs, after Malta became the first country in the EU to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.

“The reality of drug use has continued. The culture of recreational cannabis and cocaine use is becoming even stronger,” he said.

Gatt was speaking at the annual Caritas graduation titled ‘We look forward’, which has seen 12 individuals successfully completing the agency’s drug rehab programme.

Last December, Malta became the first EU country to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.

The law allows the possession of up to 7g of cannabis and the growing of four plants at home. It also provides for regulated clubs from where cannabis can be sold to registered members.

Caritas was among the 53 organisations to oppose the law, claiming it will have a negative impact on society.

In his speech, Gatt gratuitously linked the recreational use of cannabis with the recreational use of cocaine, arguably a more dangerous substance.

“When we were campaigning against the law, there were those who critically told us, 'don't I have the right to smoke a joint in my house in peace...' and there were those who told us... 'don't I have a right to snort a line during the weekend without bothering anyone…’,” Gatt said.

He said there are lobbies pushing for drug laws to relax further, even for the full legalisation of cannabis.

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Gatt also compared the pro-legalisation movement to assertions made in the 1950s which claimed cigarettes were healthy. “Without a doubt, with the increased use of cannabis, we will see more psychiatric problems.”

He went on to stress the need for more discipline in society. “Families have to offer children the best parenting – firm but warm.”

“I believe that we are living in a society where everyone wants everything, but they do not want to work for it,” Gatt said. “We also need the business community, unions, authorities and the government to fight this culture where everyone does what they please, the culture of only looking at selfish needs and the culture which pushes wants over common good.”

“We have to be careful because we may end up needing to cope with the problems we are creating, and as these problems grow, we will need an army of services and professionals,” Gatt said.

Anthony Gatt compared the situation in Malta to the biblical story of Eve and the forbidden fruit. “Let’s leave the apple where it lies.”

President George Vella, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, emeritus presidents and other distinguished guests were also present for the graduation.