A group of 20 church organisations and two NGOs have jointly presented a position paper on the cannabis reform bill, expressing serious concern about the proposed legislation’s effects on society.
They also called for “a serious, mature and researched debate” on the subject. The bill is to start being debated in second reading in Parliament on Tuesday.
According to the bill, 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 Church entities, many of which work with children and young people, said they believed the proposals would normalise drug use and were being rushed through at the end of a legislature and just before a general election.
They called on the government to “press the pause button” and to put the bill on hold until a serious, independent, and researched study is carried out about the social impact of the proposals listed in the bill.
In their position paper, the entities give detailed feedback on various proposals and argue that the bill creates “a very weak regulated model with huge loopholes” for abuse.
They express serious concern about a number of aspects proposed in the law including the very limited regulation of cannabis grown in households, as well as the weak regulation of the opening of cannabis growing associations in all towns and villages.
Another serious concern is the possibility of using loopholes in the proposed law to allow the use of cannabis in public, despite declarations to the contrary made in the law.
The 22 signatories are: Caritas Malta, Church Homes for the Elderly, Church Schools’ Association, Dar Merħba Bik Foundation, Dar tal-Providenza, Fondazzjoni Sebħ, Justice and Peace Commission, Kummissjoni Djoċesana Djakonija, Malta Catholic Youth Network (MCYN), Mater Dei and Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre Chaplains, Millenium Chapel, Oasi Foundation, Paulo Freire Institute Foundation, Peace and Good Foundation, Secretariat for Catholic Education, Social Assistance Secretariat (SAS), Society St Vincent de Paul, SOS Malta, St Jeanne Antide Foundation, the Conference of Religious Major Superiors (KSMR), Uffiċċju Ħidma Pastorali mal-Persuni Separati and YMCA Malta.