Updated 6.02 pm with Bernard Grech's reaction below -
Former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi has added pressure on the Nationalist Party to commit itself to repeal recreational cannabis laws if it returns to government.
Gonzi, who led the PN between 2004 and 2013, said that he was absolutely against the cannabis reform bill, approved by parliament on Tuesday.
The new law will allow adult cannabis users to possess, buy and grow small quantities of the drug for recreational use. Smoking cannabis in public will remain against the law.
The bill sailed through the final stage of the legislative process in parliament despite staunch opposition from the PN, Church-led organisations, medical associations and a number of lobby groups. Government MPs voted in favour and the opposition against.
Malta thus became the first country in the EU to introduce recreational cannabis laws.
In a Facebook post published on Tuesday afternoon, Gonzi said that he was aghast at the government’s decision to ignore the advice of “experts who all spoke against this law”.
“I hope that all this is not happening to benefit, once again, those whose mind is on money rather than the wellbeing of our children.
"If that is the case, then even if this law is passed, somebody must prepare to remove it as soon as possible using all legitimate means,” Gonzi wrote.
Although Gonzi kept his plea vague and made no reference to the PN, his words add pressure on party leader Bernard Grech to commit to repeal the law, should the party be elected into government.
Grech had initially spoken favourably of the reform plans and argued that it made sense to provide users with a legal pathway to obtain the drug.
The PN however then reversed its position, saying that the reform would lead to the drug being normalised in society.
A vote can be repealed through a simple majority vote in parliament, or if it is successfully challenged in a constitutional court.
The matter can also be put to a national referendum, if 10 per cent of voters sign a petition requesting one.
Bernard Grech reacts, but does not commit to repeal
Questioned outside parliament about Gonzi's comments, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said a PN government would not trample on the rights of Maltese society but would analyse the situation by studying data and consulting experts, unlike Robert Abela, who had pushed through a bill which was harmful to Malta's children.
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