23 organisations call for urgent regulation of 'free for all' cannabis use

They said that the Government introduced the cannabis legislation hurriedly and without creating effective structures in time

23 organisations have called for urgent regulation over what they said was “free for all” use of cannabis, saying Malta’s recreational cannabis laws have no effective structures to cater to the law.

In a statement on Saturday they said that the recent developments, that saw Mariella Dimech ousted as chair of the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis after only 10 months, and being replaced by former Caritas Director Leonid McKay.

“The recent developments surrounding the appointment of a new Executive Chairperson of the Cannabis Authority confirms our strong reservations, that the Government has introduced legislation with a major impact on society in a hurried manner and without creating effective structures to implement the law,” the organisations said.

Last December, the Maltese Parliament voted in favour of legalising recreational cannabis, however, associations that grow and sell cannabis legally, are yet to be registered.

“One year after the law was approved, the perception that the use of cannabis in our society has become ‘free for all’ has dramatically increased while the structures contemplated by the law to regulate are conspicuous by their complete absence.”

Days ago, lawyer and former PN MP Franco Debono questioned how it has been legal to possess cannabis in Malta for the past year, but it was not yet possible to acquire it legally.

“I hope that the government understands how grievous and alarming this situation is and the serious responsibility that might have to be carried. The government should have first legalised the outlets and then legalised possession,” Debono argued.

The organisations expressed concern that the government did not match its drive to legislate, with the complimentary and necessary resources to set up a strong Authority to implement the law in a serious and responsible manner.

“We augur that the Cannabis authority would be given the necessary resources to develop the appropriate structures to regulate such a sensitive sector in a manner which protects the interests of the most vulnerable members of society, particularly children and youths.”

They appealed to the Government to listen to the feedback from society and those organisations that work on a daily basis with “victims of the negative effects of substance use, including that of cannabis.”

The statement was endorsed by Caritas Malta Malta Association of Psychiatry, Fondazzjoni OASI Maltese Association of Social Workers, Richmond Foundation Kamra tal-Ispiżjara, Malta Employers Association Secretariat for Catholic Education, Anti poverty Forum Church Schools Association, Alleanza Kontra l-Faqar Independent Schools Association, Gozo Tourism Association Karl Vella Foundation, Gozo Business Chamber Dar Osanna Pia, Dar Tal-Providenza Fondazzjoni Paolo Freire, Millenium Chapel St Jeanne Antide Foundation, Dar Merħba Bik Kummissjoni Ġustizzja u Paci and Fondazzjoni Sebħ.

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