Malta Association of Psychiatry said Tuesday that lack of planning and commitment to tackling the consequences of the just-enacted law on cannabis use was 'frankly frightening and irresponsible'.
In a statement it said it felt 'cheated and disenfranchised by the way lawmakers disregarded any consultation by the experts in the field and went ahead with passing a law, lock stock and barrel with no thought or consideration of the mental health of the nation.
"Unfortunately the calls we, experts in mental health, made to lawmakers in the run up to the passing of the cannabis bill fell on deaf ears," the association said.
It said the law does and will decriminalise cannabis use - a change it welcomed. However, multiple and varied calls to address mental health consequences of cannabis legalisation for some were blatantly ignored.
"While we recognize that for the majority of people, smoking cannabis is inconsequential, for a few it can have devastating consequences, such as anxiety, depression and psychotic disorders. We implore that lawmakers, policy makers and ministers are fully prepared to assist those that do," the association said.
It therefore called for:
- A budget for health education and prevention and accurate regularisation of use;
- A well-funded campaign on the health of the nation, with a big push towards the promotion of regular sports, arts and music in schools and government funded facilities;
- Evidence-based measures capping the limit of THC (the main psychoactive compound in cannabis) as well as the THC/CBD ratios, to reduce the risks of cannabis-induced psychosis in users.
- A raising of the minimum age of consumption from 18 years to 25 years.
- A budget is allocated to mental health to address the increase in cannabis-induced mental disorders or consequences.
- A hypothetical tax on profit earned from cannabis for reinvestment in mental health services or physical health facilities to promote a healthy lifestyle.
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