There does not seem to be any undue opposition to a measure that will decriminalise the carrying and personal leisure use of cannabis in a moderate controlled manner. A Labour legislation proposal includes such a measure and moderate cannabis consumption will no longer automatically be a punishable crime, with an effect on one’s conduct certificate. 

Many are in agreement with this decriminalisation. However, there is considerable justified disapproval of the overall law, as it is being proposed, since it probably will encourage a proliferation of the use of cannabis.

A careful reading of the legislation facing parliament will leave one bewildered as to the unintended, or intended, consequences of this law. A law that is shabbily drafted and appears very much to promote and encourage the use of this drug.

Through a prominent feature of this law, a citizen will not be held in transgression if found carrying seven grams of the drug and this when Holland, the most liberal EU country on drug consumption, establishes 3.5 grams as the ceiling. That is, Malta is doubling this allowance.

Furthermore, in excess of seven and up to 28 grams found on a person in Malta will not necessarily compel a specially set-up tribunal, chaired by a commissioner, to indicate a case of trafficking and recommend criminal action.

On a positive note, our legislators are, fortunately, wise enough to insist that cannabis consumption cannot occur in public and definitely not in the presence of persons under the age of 18. This age proviso is further emphasised where home management and consumption of cannabis is concerned.

Now this is where the promotion of cannabis consumption rears its head. The law is going to permit each and every Maltese household to sow and nurture at home up to four plants of the drug cannabis at any time. Furthermore, within the relevant residential address, up to 50 grams of dried cannabis may be stored for personal use.

Displaying a seemingly fake concern, our legislators naively proceed to tell us that such home cultivation must not occur in a space accessible or visible to children or the public. So, it stands to reason that if the plants are placed on a roof or a balcony any children in the household must not have access to such an area. Now, if mummy or daddy decide to smoke a joint at home, they have to be careful to either lock themselves up or the children in a distinct room of the house or flat.

To the rescue of poor parents living in overcrowded premises who, very considerately and responsibly, will not take risks with their children, there is the proviso that will see the establishment of organisations, open to members, that on managed premises will see to collective cultivation of the plant cannabis exclusively for distribution to the same registered members.

These organisations will have a status similar to voluntary organisations.

The law is going to permit each and every Maltese household to sow and nurture at home up to four plants of cannabis- Arthur Muscat

Again, we have to accept, with a straight face and relief, that our legislators, displaying mature responsibility, insist that the premises of these organisations will have to be 250 metres distant from a school or a youth club. Also, no sale of alcoholic products will be allowed from the premises of these organisations and relevant premises managers must be persons of good conduct.

It is pathetic, but also funny, how the Labour proposers of this law are proud to have made the generous concession to all Maltese households to sow and nurture four cannabis plants at home. I did not ask for this concession, imposed on me, and I will probably formally reject it.

I do not want this forced concession to render me liable to visits from police officers intent on checking whether I am nurturing more than the allowed four cannabis plants. Thank you very much, I am not into drugs.

It would be more ethical to ask whoever desires to grow cannabis plants at home to register his or her wish for such a permission.

Solemnly, the proposers of this legislation are declaring that, as drafted, this law will not encourage a proliferation of cannabis smoking among the citizens of Malta. Not so solemnly, but rudely, may I disapprove of yet another instance of ‘enlightened’ legislation with whiffs of probable hidden agendas.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us