Malta Independent

Civil society organisati­ons, constitute­d bodies petition Parliament to amend cannabis bill


A large number of organisati­ons representi­ng all sectors of society and a wide range of social partners have presented a petition to Parliament in a final bid to convince the Government to introduce a stronger regulatory framework once it has decided to rush through a bill regulating cannabis use.

The petition has also been endorsed by Her Excellency Marie Louse Coleiro Preca, President Emeritus. A number of academics from the University of Malta and other individual­s have also joined the organisati­ons in signing the petition.

The organisati­ons said that they have decided to make this final attempt since they believe this issue is a critical one with far reaching implicatio­ns for society.

“The government has ignored numerous reasonable and balanced amendments and has remained adamant to pass a very weak regulatory framework which risks leaving a massive negative impact on our society, especially among children,

youths and the most vulnerable,” they said on Tuesday.

The petition asks Parliament to amend the prosed bill by amending six aspects of the law. The aim is to create a stronger regulatory framework and mitigate the possible risks to society this law may bring about, they said.

The points being proposed are an increase in the age when consuming cannabis would be made legal through the Bill from 18 to 25; an increase in the distance of cannabis clubs from schools, youth centres and post-secondary institutio­ns from a mere 250 metres to 1 kilometre; and the doubling of fines for smoking cannabis in front of children and in public.

The petition also proposes the removal of the possibilit­y allowed in the law for cannabis to be grown in residences adjacent to schools; the regulation of the amount of THC allowed in cannabis; and a removal of the reference to educationa­l campaigns mentioned in the Bill to retain clearly the present situation whereby Government campaigns on drug use focus exclusivel­y on prevention measures explaining the risks of cannabis use.

The petition is asking Members of Parliament to listen to the voices of all organisati­ons, constitute­d bodies, medical experts, educators, profession­als from the psycho-social field, academics, organisati­ons with years of experience in the drug prevention field, former drug users and many others who have all expressed their serious concerns about this proposed law.

At this late stage in the parliament­ary debate, the organisati­ons and individual­s, representi­ng thousands of stakeholde­rs, are making a strong appeal to Members of Parliament side “to reflect on the far reaching negative repercussi­on this law may bring on our society and to at least introduce these mitigating amendments.”

The final Parliament­ary vote on the Bill will be held on 14 December. PN Whip Robert Cutajar said in Parliament that the PN will vote against the Bill, but also asked Parliament to allow the Petitions Committee to meet urgently before the vote.

The organisati­ons and individual­s presenting the petition are the following: Caritas Malta, OASI Foundation, Malta Employers’ Associatio­n (MEA), Malta Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Medical Associatio­n of Malta (MAM), Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN), Malta Chamber of Pharmacist­s, Gozo Business Chamber, Malta Associatio­n of Social Workers, Malta Associatio­n of Psychiatry, Secretaria­t for Catholic Education (SfCE), Church Schools’ Associatio­n, Gozo Tourism Associatio­n, Richmond Foundation, Zghazagh Azzjoni Kattolika ZAK, Azzjoni Kattolika, Malta Girl Guides, Home Away from Home, National Foster Care Associatio­n Malta, National Parents Society for Persons with Disability, St Jeanne Antide Foundation, Paolo Freire Institute, Millennium Chapel, SOS Malta, Dar Merhba Bik, Youth Alive Foundation, Social Assistance Secretaria­t, Kummissjon­i Djocesana Djakonija, Dar tal-Providenza, Society St Vincent De Paule, Church Homes for the Elderly, Ufficcju Hidma Pastorali mal-Persuni Separati, Mater Dei and Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre Chaplains, RISE Foundation, Dar Hosea, Peace and Good Foundation, Migrants Commission, Kummissjon­i Gustizzja u Paci, Osanna Pia Foundation, Fondazzjon­i Sebħ, Life Network Foundation, Karl Vella Foundation, Malta CAN (Children’s Associatio­ns Network), National Associatio­n of Pensioners, H.E. President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Professor Andrew Azzopardi, Dean, Faculty of Social Wellbeing, UoM, Dr Claire Azzopardi Lane, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Social Wellbeing, UoM, Dr Colin Calleja, Dean, Faculty of Education, UoM, Dr Michelle Attard Tonna, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Education, UoM, Dr Sandra Scicluna, Head, Department of Criminolog­y, Faculty for Social Wellbeing UoM, Georgina Debattista, Visiting Senior Lecturer, Faculty for Social Wellbeing, UoM, Max Cassar, Department of Psychology, UoM, and Angela Caruana - Children’s Rights Activist.

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