The Malta Independent 15 August 2022, Monday

TMID Editorial: A country of confusion

Tuesday, 28 June 2022, 08:54 Last update: about 3 months ago

Last week, President George Vella presided over the ceremony in which 12 people “graduated” after completing a residential therapeutic programme to overcome drug addiction. The programme was run by Caritas.

It is an event that is held once a year, and the State, through the presence of the President, expressed its satisfaction that people who were addicted to drugs sought help to find a remedy, and this help was given to them.

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These 12 people, the President said in his address, should be proud of this achievement. This is the beginning of another phase in your life, Vella told them, as they will be stronger thanks to programme they followed.

If you slip back into addiction, Vella said, you will find people ready to welcome you with open arms to help you out of the problem again.

This is the same President who last year signed a law which made it legal to grow cannabis plants at home, and for people to carry up to seven grams for personal use. The law was pushed by the Labour government, one of its many liberal ideas that have come to fruition in the past years.

The law opened the way for more cannabis users and for more exposure of young people, including children, to the drug, as Caritas chief Anthony Gatt said in a recent interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday. Children as young as nine are being exposed to the drug, he had said at the time, but in spite of efforts to have this explained, perhaps even countered, by the new authority that oversees what the government describes as “responsible” use of cannabis, this media house never got a reply.

But the questions is: if we are so happy when people get out of drug addiction, if we hold ceremonies to praise them, and if we tell them that any relapse would find society ready to help them again, why have we made it easier for drugs to be consumed?

To be clearer, we do not know what kind of drugs these 12 people who graduated used to take. It could be that the drugs they were addicted to were harder than cannabis. It could be that there was a mix.

Whatever the circumstances were, however, it is common knowledge that people who take hard drugs usually start with something like cannabis. So it is equally easy to draw a conclusion that some of the people who graduated from the Caritas programme last week at least started their road to drugs via cannabis use.

This is why it is so confusing. We highlight and award people who get rid of drug addiction, and yet we enact laws that make it legal for them to consume and cultivate the drug that could start them on the way to harder drugs.

By making cannabis use acceptable and legal, we are only encouraging people to use drugs; and this is especially so for the younger generations. They are growing in a society where they see adults using cannabis legally, so they are bound to believe that cannabis use is normal.

Confusing, indeed.

 

 

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