The nurses' union has urged President George Vella not to sign a proposed cannabis reform into law unless it is amended to ensure medics aren't under the influence while at work. 

In a statement on Friday morning, the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses said it was appealing to President Vella to hold off on signing a draft law on cannabis use, unless a special provision on hospitals and elderly homes is included.

The MUMN also said it will be requesting an urgent meeting with social partners on the matter. 

Under the proposed reform cannabis will be legalised for personal use, with adults being able to possess up to seven grams of cannabis without the risk of arrest or confiscation.

The controversial reform bill will now move to its third and final reading for a final vote with no major amendments after calls for change were dismissed by the government. 

Doctors have previously called for the withdrawal of the reform. 

In May, the Medical Association of Malta said the proposals are "poorly thought out and presented without the input of health and social professionals who deal with the after-effects of cannabis use". 

'No provisions on patient safety'

The MUMN on Friday said the proposed law on cannabis contains no provisions for patient safety in a hospital and elderly residence.

“Any nurse, doctor, or even a carer under the influence of cannabis may be nursing patients," it said.

"Such professionals may have impaired mental judgment and the management of any hospital would not be in a position to take the necessary action to stop such hospital employees since there is no provision within the law concerning a sensitive sector such as the health sector."  

The MUMN said that giving people the right to smoke cannabis, should never be to the detriment of vulnerable patients. 

“Any hospital management should always have the right to take blood and urine levels to test for cannabis and drugs including alcohol. Disciplinary action should be taken when such substances are found in abnormal levels,” the union said.  

It warned that, in a clinical setting, a simple slip-up could end with a patient being given the wrong medicine.   

The law has to protect the patient at all times and having legislation on cannabis with no special proviso for the hospitals and elderly residences would be "a great disrespect".

This would also result in great irresponsibility towards the patients who have trusted their lives in the hands of health professionals, the union said.

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