Updated Saturday 9.45am with Fenech Adami reaction

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that if reelected he would set the ball rolling for a "national discussion" on the legalisation of cannabis.

Speaking on Pjazza on ONE, the Labour Party's TV station, Dr Muscat said he would open talks on the possibility of legalising the use of cannabis.

Exponents of legalising cannabis argue that drug users should not be treated as criminals.

The Labour administration introduced a drug reform which decriminalised cannabis use, through which users no longer face criminal proceedings. The substance is, however, still illegal.

Dr Muscat said he did not want to sweep the issue under the carpet.

Countries such as Canada and Portugal, as well as parts of the United States, had legalised Cannabis.

He said he was torn on the issue but wanted to address it head on.

"I'm concerned by the notion of my children experimenting with drugs, but at the same time I understand that maintaining its (cannabis) illegal status favours traffickers," he said. 

The Prime Minister also said it was time to have a similar national discussion on the regularisation of prostitution to protect women from a vicious cycle. 

PN also in favour of informed discussion 

In reaction to Dr Muscat's comments, PN leader Simon Busuttil said he was in favour of an informed discussion based on scientific research about the regularisation of the use of recreational marijuana.

"On such sensitive matters all parents are naturally concerned and therefore it is important that we get it right," he said.

This stand was also supported by Partit Demokratiku's Marlene Farrugia.

On Saturday morning, PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami appealed for a mature and serious discussion on cannabis legalisation.

Replying to questions from journalists, Dr Fenech Adami said the final decision on this matter should not be taken three weeks before a general election.

Dr Fenech Adami denied that the PN’s position was a snap reaction to the Prime Minister's declaration last night that legalisation should be discussed.

The matter had been discussed internally as well as with PD, he said.

He said Malta would not be re-inventing the wheel with such a discussion.

Although opinions varied, Dr Fenech Adami said it would be irresponsible not to discuss the issue.

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