The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Watch: Bonnici insists cannabis law regulates its use safely, fines in place for offenders

Sabrina Zammit Monday, 6 December 2021, 12:31 Last update: about 6 months ago

Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation Owen Bonnici said today that there will be adequate fines for those who expose cannabis to minors, both publicly and in private residencies.

Speaking to the Malta Independent, Bonnici said that there are already individuals who grow and make use of cannabis – currently illegally, and so the importance of regulating the substance in a safe way is the main purpose of the reform.

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The fines allocated for those who smoke or grow cannabis in front of minors are large, said Bonnici. He added that through the new system which PL is proposing, an individual which has not reached the age of 18 will not be permitted to acquire cannabis. Bonnici said that today’s situation entails that those who make use of cannabis resort to drug trafficking, where cannabis is sold to minors, and so with this reform, this will be regularised.

When asked if there will be regular check-ups in private residencies to ensure that cannabis is not being exposed to children by parents or siblings, Bonnici said that the current laws respect the privacy of a private residency, and so check-ups will not be conducted, but added that the fines in place will be enforced.

Bonnici stated that he has no doubt that parents will be responsible and will do everything in their power to maintain distance between the substance and children.

The Malta Independent asked Bonnici on why the government insists on not giving a free vote to Labour members of parliament regarding the cannabis law. Bonnici replied that the law went through a long process of consultations where 350 proposals were studied, resulting in the PL being united in this reform.

Bonnici added that meanwhile, the PN is divided, as Opposition leader Bernard Grech initially said that he is in favour of a reform on cannabis laws, then later on PN came out against the law.

Asked about the ignored proposals which NGOs have put forth, as well as concerns from the public regarding the law, Bonnici said that he understands that there will be reservations towards the law, however, does not understand why these concerns arose now, and not before in a state of absolute illegality.

He added that one is not correct to have the illusion that cannabis is just starting to be used due to the new law, as cannabis is already being used. Bonnici insisted that works are being done to regularise what is already occurring.

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