Claudette Buttigieg claims guide dog got high from second-hand cannabis smoke

Nationalist MPs say ‘free-for-all’ culture has been created since government enacted law regulating cannabis use

Updated at 7:15pm with Rebecca Buttigieg parliamentary speech 

Nationalist MPs Claudette Buttigieg and Graziella Attard Previ have hit out at the law regulating cannabis use, saying since its enactment there has been a free-for-all when it comes to the substance’s consumption.

“I know a blind person who was eating at a restaurant, and in the smoking area his guide dog inhaled second hand cannabis smoke. After the incident, it could not assist its owner,” Nationalist MP Claudette Buttigieg claimed.

In December 2021, the Maltese parliament voted in favour of allowing 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.

The MPs were speaking during a parliamentary debate on a legislative amendment allowing the ARUC – the regulatory body on cannabis association licensing – to issue administrative fines related to the substance.

“Chaos and a free-for-all attitude have reigned in the country since the law regulating cannabis was enacted,” MP Graziella Attard Previ said.

Attard Previ said the law regulating cannabis has created a culture where substance use is widely accepted in society.

“The consumption of drugs has increased widely. Just look at the facts, and the recent string of traffic fatalities, the majority of drivers were under the influence of drugs,” she said.

The MP also explained how CBD joints are being sold from commercial establishments, and are even being delivered on popular delivery apps like Bolt and Wolt.

Unlike its cousin THC, CBD is not intoxicating or psychoactive. Proponents of CBD oil and other CBD products claim that it can be used to treat conditions such as chronic pain, inflammation, migraines, epilepsy, autoimmune diseases, depression, and anxiety.

She also lamented the opening up of new shops selling products for growing cannabis plants.

Public consumption of cannabis

Both MPs lamented that since the law was enacted, the public consumption of cannabis has increased.

MP Claudette Buttigieg said smelling cannabis smoke in public has become a common occurrence. “You can smell cannabis in Merchant’s Street, Valletta regularly. That is the state we are in.”

She was echoing statements made earlier by Attard Previ, who said consumption of the substance has been a common occurrence.

The MPs also lamented how, despite government assurances, people are smoking cannabis in front of their children.

“This is serious. You said this wouldn’t happen, and now it is happening,” Buttigieg said.


Addressing the House, Attard Previ questioned whether ARUC was equipped enough to carry out the needed regulation.

“Government was happy in administering millions for a fraudulent hospitals deal, but was not ready to allocate more than €200,000 for ARUC,” she said. “Because for Labour, votes are more important than society’s wellbeing.”

The MP also questioned whether ARUC has the system in place to regulate the number of members in the cannabis associations.

“The number of members is limited to 250 for each association, but does ARUC have a centralised digital system to regulate the number of users?” she said.

‘A debate straight out of the 70’s’ – Rebecca Buttigieg

Delivering the winding up speech, reforms parliamentary secretary Rebecca Buttigieg slammed derogatory terms used by PN MPs during their speech.

“I felt I was in a parliamentary debate in the 1970’s. We heard the terms drugati (drugged up) and imdamdmin (beaten up) used by certain MPs. These kinds of terms continue to increase the stigmas against users,” she said.

She refuted claims that the law incentivises cannabis use, insisting the situation as it was before made it harder for addicts to come forward and seek help.

“The law has not legalised cannabis use, it has regularised personal use. Let’s get the facts straight,” she said.

Buttigieg also addressed the “false impression” given by certain opposition speakers who suggested the consumption of cannabis before driving is now being allowed. “It was never legal, and it is not legal now.”

She also stated that the selling of CBD products is in line with the law.

“The law states that CBD products with less than 0.2% THC are legal. This is in line with EU law. With that percentage you cannot get high, you have CBD creams and CBD shampoos,” she pointed out.

The parliamentary secretary clarified that ‘grow shops’ are not permitted to sell smokable cannabis, and only sell products for the cultivation of the plant. “The authority is also assessing these kinds of shops.”

On not raising the legal age when one can consume cannabis to 25, as suggested by a number of NGOs who opposed the law, she said this would have created a situation where users below that age resort to the black market.

She also hit out at statements made by MP Albert Buttigieg claiming cannabis was a gateway drug.

“This is an outdate term which has been disproved by countless studies, and the theory has proved not true,” she said.