The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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New campaign to educate the general public on cannabis use and legislation

Monday, 4 March 2024, 14:10 Last update: about 3 months ago

The government is to launch an educational campaign on the responsible use of cannabis in collaboration with Sedqa.

Addressing the media, Leonid McKay, head of Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis, said information on cannabis and Maltese legislation will be disseminated to the general public but also the community of cannabis users.

He added that the authority will be taking to various media from TV to radio to clarify the legislation on cannabis for example, “Can I sell cannabis?” This is the first time the government is focusing on harm reduction. This serves to focus not only on prevention but harm reduction.

There are now 3 licensed, and so in-line with the legal directives, cannabis associations each of which have 250 members who distribute cannabis to their members. These associations are community-driven by the members themselves and take responsibility over their own cannabis from “seed to distribution”. Based on feedback from the first months of the associations it was found that some of the members have been using cannabis for years. That said, neither ARUC nor the government have access to the details of the members or even the number of pending members.

ARUC has also partially-funded various child education initiatives by Sedqa. ARUC will focus on harm reduction whilst Sedqa will remain focused on prevention. ARUC hopes to continue working with Sedqa.

The authority and government aim to shift cannabis use from the unregulated ‘street’ market to a regulated market whose product is tested and safe. ARUC’s aim was never to promote cannabis, McKay said.

Minister Michael Falzon said that one should aim to end drug use. No drug use is good and if a person is using drugs, he or she is doing wrong and becoming a slave to the substance being used. Indeed, prevention is key to this. He said that Oasi, Caritas and Sedqa are all supported by the government. That said, we must face reality for which ARUC is necessary. He added that we must be humane to each other, empathize and refrain from judgement.

Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg referred to a recent drug report 2022 in which cannabis was second only to cocaine. Furthermore, there was a substantial number of hospital admissions caused by synthetic and tainted cannabis. So, by the 2021 law, Buttigieg said the government is safeguarding public health and safety. She added that the Malta is not pro-drug but is addressing an existing problem. She added that in the last few months, the police busted a large amount of imported cannabis. So, trafficking will always remain illegal in Malta.

The campaign will officially begin as of this Wednesday.

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