Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil said that the principal line taken by the PN is to further understand the problems caused by drugs, not just health problems, but problems created in society and that the state utilises its resources, alongside experts in the field like Caritas and Sedqa to help solve the issue.
Dr Busuttil was attending a discussion organised by MZPN and said that laws and actions need to be strengthened in order to tackle the problem of drug traffickers. However he agrees that victims of drugs should be helped and not thrown into prison.
“We need to study why people begin to take drugs and why they fall into the habit,” Dr Busuttil said.
The state cannot do everything on its own and must work with NGOs and families in order to be effective in utilising its resources, Dr Busuttil added. “These resources are limited and the state must focus these resources where they can achieve the best results”.
“Everyone should have their say even if they don’t agree with what has been said thus far. Even those who don’t agree have the right to voice their opinions. We must ensure that we send the signal that all drugs are bad and focus on actions that are more effective against trafficking and undertake practical work to help cure addicts whilst reducing the harm they cause to those around them and society in general,” he said.
Discussing the drug reform proposal tabled in Parliament, PN Secretary General Chris Said said that two years ago, the Commission against Alcohol and Drug Abuse put forward a proposal called the arrest referred scheme.
It was a commission made up of experts from Sedqa, Caritas, police, university etc and together saw how to best respond to the drug problem. It was then placed into a consultation document and the current white paper holds many points taken through that exercise.
Dr Said emphasised the need to ensure that people understand all drugs are bad and not allow society to think that certain drugs are better than others.
PL MP Godfrey Farrugia spoke about the use of medical marijuana, mentioning that research shows marijuana is made up of 480 different chemicals, a number of which are useful in treating a number of illnesses. He mentioned that morphine is an opiate and as such we should consider some of these chemicals useful along the same lines.
AD spokesperson Carmel Cacopardo spoke of the situation in Portugal, a country that decriminalised drugs 13 years ago. He mentioned that the rate of drug related medical issues has decreased and the number of people using drugs has also done so, citing it as a success.
Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said he was pleased to hear Chris Said say that for the most part, they agree with what is being proposed.
He said that small possession offenders will be taken in front of the Commissioner of Justice for their first offence, then before a board for their second. The board would try and help the person get rid of his addiction however if the person does not comply with board provisions, then he will he will be sent to court.