The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

‘Cannabis should have been legalised before alcohol’

Sabrina Zammit Sunday, 12 December 2021, 09:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

A drug user and former trafficker believes that the world should be more concerned about the harms and dangers of alcohol, rather than raise so much fuss about cannabis use.

The legality of alcohol consumption makes it easily accessible, he argues, but while extra shots of whisky and vodka can lead to fights and brawls, not to mention drink-driving, smoking weed has a calming effect.

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The Malta Independent on Sunday spoke to Jeremy* as Parliament debates the legalisation of cannabis use, what the government describes as the Responsible Use of Cannabis law, which eases rules on the drug.

The law will enable users to legally grow, purchase buds and seeds for personal use and cultivation. It proposes that users are allowed to carry up to seven grammes of cannabis in public, although smoking the drug in public remains prohibited. Users can also grow four plants at home, provided they are concealed from public view.

Possession of less than seven grammes of cannabis for people over 18 will no longer be a crime.

A final vote on the law will be taken in Parliament on Tuesday, with government pushing ahead in spite of objections that have been raised by organisations who work with drug users and addicts.

The Nationalist Party has suggested that the legislation requires more technical qualifications from individuals selected to manage the new authority to regulate cannabis use.

An online petition is urging government to review the law before it is enacted, as the organisers believe it will lead to a culture of drug use.

In his comments to this newspaper, Jeremy said that people choose alcohol over weed because it is legal. He added that if given a chance to have easier access to cannabis, they would prefer to smoke weed rather than drink, as this makes them calmer. "The many fights that happen and continue to happen in Paceville are because of the negative effects of alcohol," he said. 

Jeremy was in the past convicted of a crime, which will no longer be such with the new provisions.

He said that when people go on a night out, especially to Paceville, they feel paranoid if they have a joint or two in their pockets, but this is not the case with alcohol. The use of cannabis is widespread, but for alcohol it is even more than this.

The former trafficker said that, like with the cases of alcohol, there should be a limit on how much cannabis is consumed to retain a person's ability to drive safely. In his own experience, there were times when he smoked cannabis and was still able to drive, adding that there were other times where he took too much and refrained from driving.

He agreed with the Commissioner for Children that cannabis should not be easily accessible to children, and their parents or guardians should be responsible for keeping it away from them. Although he agrees with the sanctions that should come into place with the legalisation, he believes that authorities should get involved and check private residencies when there is suspicious activity concerning minors. 

In an interview with The Malta Independent last week, Pauline Miceli, Commissioner for Children, said that anyone who works with young people knows how easy it is to obtain cannabis. "We have to keep in mind that young people have the urge to experiment and in the process could make mistakes," she said. She also mentioned the possibility of the plant being homegrown and noted that children could be exposed to passive smoking.

Jeremy said that in his own experience, although his time in jail was short, it did positively affect him, as he now describes himself as being more independent, financially stable and responsible.

 

*The name of the person interviewed by ‘The Malta Independent’

was changed to protect identity

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