New rules to legalise medicinal cannabis products would under no circumstances allow smokeable cannabis to be sold legally, Health Minister Chris Fearne told parliament on Monday as he said the government was in no way "soft on drugs".
Speaking during a debate on amendments to the Treatment not Imprisonment Act first introduced in 2015, Mr Fearne emphasised that it was the medical, and not recreational, use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products that was under discussion.
Legal amendments would allow any registered doctor, including general practitioners, to prescribe the use of cannabinoid derivatives for medical use at their discretion in cases where no alternatives were available.
Products in question had to be medical in nature, and produced under the good manufacturing practices common to all legal medication.
The Health Minister mooted the possibility of Malta becoming a production centre for medical cannabis and associated products, with the appropriate safeguards in place.
Opposition MP Stephen Spiteri said the Opposition was fully behind the law, but called for efforts to prevent the misuse and/or abuse of cannabis-derived products.
Since the use of such medication was a new step for the Maltese healthcare sector, he also called for assurances that those prescribing cannabinoids would be properly trained.
He said that, wherever possible, conventional medication should be preferred, and that the view that medical cannabis was a cure-all was misguided and potentially harmful.
Referring to Dr Fearne’s concern about the high prices of cannabis-based medical products, Dr Spiteri suggested that the government take on the responsibility of importing and distributing these products, to avoid market pressures and exorbitant and exclusionary fees.
Designer drug flakka to be criminalised
New rules will soon be introduced to criminalise designer drug flakka, Dr Fearne also told parliament during the parliamentary debate.
Flakka is a synthetic drug of the cathinone class which has gained headway within the European drug scene in recent years, gaining notoriety for the disturbing reactions, including hallucinations, paranoia and psychosis, that it induces.
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