Healthcare and rehabilitation professionals slam proposal on recreational cannabis

 A strong statement was issued by the Maltese Association of Psychiatry and OASI Foundation, and other professionals squarely against the use of recreational cannabis. Among the main reasons, they cited passing on a very unhealthy and confusing message, the need for harm reduction and beefed-up enforcement and general education on the harsh consequences of drugs and the need for support for families caught up in this web. “If the legalisation of cannabis will see new individuals starting cannabis use then definitely this cannot be labelled as a harm reduction strategy” they warned. They added that “We do not believe the legalization recreational purposes will eliminate cannabis illegal supply.”

A ticking time bomb

These professional organisations expressed great concern that drug use, which has crossed all boundaries of society, is often being tagged as recreational “…despite obvious repercussions on users’ well-being”. The changes both to the increasingly potent drugs available on the market, the required treatment and the fact that these drugs are approached with what the professionals described as “…not conscious nor cautious of the substances they make use of. Most of the harm caused by drugs is gradual and covered by its euphoric and relaxing effect” The result they warned, is only visible in time.

Acknowledging the millennial use of drug use, the professionals underlined that “Consenting and approving it is different from acknowledging its existence and devise strategies to heal it”. They underlined the difference in the use of medical cannabis, re-iterating their previous position “…we do agree with the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, under scientifically proven practices and strict protocols.”

The Ten Points

The Maltese Association of Psychiatry and OASI Foundation listed their disagreement with the legalisation of cannabis:

  1. “We do feel that legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes is giving out a very unhealthy and contradicting message, especially when combined with harm reduction purposes. We believe that the state has the responsibility to give clear messages to the general public and to our young and future generations.”
  2. “We need stronger policies which guide enforcement based on training and educating not only frontliners in the enforcement and health care sectors (as these are the ones who face the consequences on drug recreational use), but also the general public.”
  3. “Parents need more professional support easily available in order to be more equipped to deal with the challenges of children’s upbringing as well as education about detecting early signs of behaviours associated with drug use.”
  4. “The same applies to the effects on the industry and work place. Employers need support and guidance on how to deal with cases of intoxication, not only with reference to machinery use, but also to how drug use effects work relations and productivity.”
  5. “Physical activity is a must for a better mental well-being. Open spaces need to be more available at all times.”
  6. “Drug users and family members need a means of knowing what kind of drug samples they are taking through anonymity protocols.”
  7. “Set up a Poison Unit in the Emergency Departments to monitor intoxication cases and levels in hospital admissions.”
  8. “Drug driving policies and training need to be in place and enforced.”
  9. “Stronger preventive strategies need also be studied and acted upon.”
  10. “Prevention should also include training for care professionals (doctors, nurses, para-medics, social workers, youth workers, teachers and learn support assistants, police and other law enforcement, etc) in how to deal with emergency cases as well as apply policies and strategies in everyday life.”

Full Statement here

Press Release - MAP & OASI - Drugs.pdf