Drug reform doesn’t make smoking a joint legal, Fenech Adami points out

Shadow justice minister Beppe Fenech Adami says general public has ‘wrong perception’ of new drugs law

Smoking a joint in a bar will not be legal and anyone caught with even very small amounts will have to appear before the Commissioner for Justice, shadow justice minister Beppe Fenech Adami said.

Speaking in parliament during the debate on the draft bill on Drug Dependence (Treatment not Imprisonment), the Nationalist MP argued that the general public was somehow thinking that smoking a joint in a bar or a café would no longer be illegal.

“In actual fact, the police still have the right to arrest anyone smoking a joint and those arrested would have to appear before the Commissioner for Justice. Somehow, the perception out there is different,” he said, adding that he fully agreed with how the law was drafted in this case.

“The law is also clear: if you are caught with one ecstasy pill or a joint in places frequented by youths, then this law doesn’t apply to you. So if there are any youths thinking that they can now go and take an ecstasy pill or cannabis without any consequences, they are wrong.”

The draft bill is set to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The bill allows for the prescription of medicinal preparations of the cannabis plant by a specialist physician if no viable alternative exists. The use of the plant may also be prescribed by a specialist physician with the approval of the Superintendent of Public Health, who may also impose conditions on its use.

Cultivation of one plant of cannabis yielding a small quantity for personal use will no longer be subject to a mandatory period of imprisonment or to the exclusion of application of probation order or a suspended sentence.

However, if someone is caught cultivating more than one plant or in bigger amounts, the criminal laws will be applied.

According to the draft bill, prosecutions for the possession of small quantities for personal use - maximum of two grammes or of two ecstasy pills or equivalent - will be carried out by the Police in accordance with the Commissioners for Justice Act and will be subject to penalties ranging from €75 to €125.
Possession for personal use of cannabis or cannabis resin will be subject to a lesser range of penalties, from €50 to €150.