A defence lawyer told a magistrate yesterday that “every prime minister in Europe has admitted to smoking a joint at one time or another”.

Legal aid lawyer Joseph Ellis noted that, in contrast, his clients – Sicilians Giuseppe Covato, 22, and his friend Emanuele Giunta, 25 – were facing up to 10 years in jail for doing the same.

He was critical of the legislation in place with regard to cannabis use, labelling current practice as “draconian”.

Dr Ellis noted that the punishment for such a crime was a maximum of 10 years in jail and a fine of €11,000 when his clients only had 0.4 grams of cannabis.

He felt that such cases were a waste of police resources and a waste of the court’s time and the legislators had to make sure that this changed. The draconian law had to be changed immediately, he insisted.

Police Inspector Johann Fenech said the two men were caught in Paceville on Saturday night and admitted to smoking the joint and Mr Giunta confessed to giving cannabis to his friend.

The officer said that while Mr Giunta admitted to trafficking the drug by sharing it, this was not a case where a prison term was called for.

He said both men fully cooperated in investigations. Unfortunately, the African man who had sold them the cannabis was not caught even though they helped the police to try and trace him.

In a parting comment, Dr Ellis said Mr Giunta had told him that he came to Malta to try cannabis and he replied that, in that case, he should have opted for Iran because he would have fared better.

Magistrate Marseann Farrugia sentenced Mr Giunta to six months in jail suspended for three years and fined him €500.

Mr Covato was fined €500.

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