Updated with PL statement

The Cannabis Reform Bill will normalise and increase drug abuse, the Nationalist Party’s parliamentary group agreed on Friday.

It said in a statement that it discussed the bill during a meeting following wide consultation with societies, organisations and individuals working with victims.

The group said that in 2015 the country made a step forward when it passed through Parliament, with the PN’s support, the means for one to be able to use cannabis without being considered a criminal and ending up in prison.

But the party was not in favour of a culture of drug abuse. It said that the bill being proposed by the government did not offer any assistance or protection to vulnerable people who fell victim to drug abuse and did not provide any new and more effective legal tools to fight trafficking.

Through the proposal, cannabis users will be able to grow plants at home or buy the substance from specially set up associations, but smoking a joint in public will remain against the law.

The group said it believed parliament should place first and foremost the interests of the vulnerable, particularly children. But the bill was ignoring children and their needs.

It said it believed Parliament should legalise to strengthen Maltese society and should never be used by political parties to create diversions from urgent issues on the eve of an election.

In another statement, the Labour Party said the PN statement was a sign of a party with a leader in crisis without any sense of leadership.

A month ago, PN leader Bernard Grech said the government had presented a bill based on what he had said earlier, implying that the government had copied his ideas, it said.

He was now trying to destroy the bill, it continued, adding that the debate will be held in Parliament where the need for a reform would be explained in detail.

What Grech said on Friday, the PL said, was further confirmation that the PN leader lacked a sense of direction.


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