Organisations concerned about normalising recreational cannabis

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Four organisations have voiced their concern on normalising the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

In a statement on Tuesday, Caritas Malta, Sedqa, Oasi Foundation and the Maltese Association of Psychiatry said that by using the term “recreational cannabis”, it conveyed the message that cannabis has a recreational value. The organisations noted that from their experience working with individuals who either abuse of alcohol or drugs, when a drug is popularised or even legalised there was a tendency for individuals to use the substance more and its negative effects are felt more by society.

The organisations said that if more people were making use of cannabis, this did not mean that one should not worry more about the spike in use. They underlined that one should question why there was prevalent use of cannabis within our society.

Last week, Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms, Rosianne Cutajar said she has been working on a legislative framework to reduce the stigma connected with cannabis use. In her video, Cutajar said that she would to ensure the introduction of a law which reflects the realities of society. According to a government study, it was found that there are some 40,000 cannabis users in Malta.

In their statement, the organisations said that the laws to decriminalise personal use of cannabis was a good step forward. They remarked that there needs to be more sensibility towards cannabis users.

The four entities said they wanted to be the voice of many concerned parents whose children justify their cannabis use as a medicine or by saying that “everyone is using it.”

Further, they added that according to recent research which replicated earlier studies, it was confirmed that the use of cannabis among adolescents caused great harm to the brain and exposed users to other drug dependencies.

The organisations appealed to influential individuals to keep working to reduce the stigma associated with substances-users but at the same time underline the message that drugs did not have a recreational value, and that every drug including cannabis, has its own dangers.

Any new laws should reflect the spirit of the 2015 amendments, the entities said, adding that users should be encouraged to shift their lives to one which was free of drugs.

The organisations said that they hope that any laws which will be proposed would not make it legal for people to access drugs and that the social consequences and disadvantages that such legislation has on vulnerable people is taken into consideration. In their definition of vulnerable people, the organisations mentioned adolescents, people who have or are at risk of developing a dependency on drugs, those who have developed paranoia and psychosis as a result of cannabis use, those who develop a-motivational syndrome and those who already have intellectual difficulties.