The Labour Party has no intention of honouring promises made to protect people from lengthy court cases related to cannabis, a lobby group has warned.

Cannabis advocacy group Releaf said that the PL’s electoral manifesto was a “regressive” one that completely ignored concepts of harm reduction and human rights when tackling drug use – concepts that were trumpeted as cornerstones of recreational cannabis legislation passed late last year.

The PL manifesto only makes a single reference to recreational cannabis, linking it to dependency and addiction and saying more research is needed into substances like it, cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs.

“We will launch a strong educational campaign, including in schools, intended to discourage all forms of dependencies,” the manifesto states.

The party's electoral plan also pledges to consider allowing people with convictions for possession of other drugs to have their criminal records wiped clean, as is now the case for cannabis users. 

Malta’s cannabis community was shaken in recent weeks by a police decision to arrest and prosecute Andrew Agius, a medical doctor who runs the pain clinic in Paola.

According to media reports, Agius was arrested and charged with drug trafficking on the grounds that a batch of CBD cannabis contained trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis that gives users the drug’s ‘high’.  

CBD cannabis does not produce any mind-altering effects and under the new recreational cannabis law it can be sold over the counter.

THC remains a controlled substance and THC-dominant cannabis can only be sold under medical prescription or from specially established cannabis associations, that have yet to be set up. Users can also grow limited amounts of it at home. 

The law explicitly establishes a maximum limit of 0.2% THC. Any cannabis with that amount or less of the psychoactive substance is outside the law’s remit.

At EU level and in the USA, the maximum permissible THC level is set at 0.3%. 

Writing on Saturday, Releaf warned recreational cannabis users that they “could be next”.

“A police crackdown has already started, and you could be next. We are not saying this to scare you. But to make you realise that, there seems to be different interpretations of the law and different consequences,” the group said.

The Labour Party had spoken about “harm reduction” and respecting users’ rights purely as a vote catcher, it said, noting that its manifesto now made no mention of those terms. 

“We can no longer trust a political philosophy and leaders that so easily sway back to the draconian mentality of the past, criminalising or medicalising people. On 26 March, be weary and wise. We aim to continue to fight for what is right!”

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