The Malta Association of Public Health Medicine (MAPHM) has expressed itself against the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.

It said in a statement this was because of potential adverse effects, addictive potential, the paucity of research and evidence on the health and social effects of recreational cannabis legalisation.

The MAPHM noted that only Uruguay, some states in the United States and recently Canada had legalised recreational cannabis use.

It said access due to legalisation could potentially lead to a decrease in risk perception, an increase in prevalence and/or frequency of use, and a consequent rise in adverse health effects attributed to cannabis.

In places where cannabis has been legalised, several public health issues had become increasingly relevant and were the subject of ongoing research and surveillance.

These included the effects of different methods of cannabis use, amounts consumed, and time since using on the ability to drive and on rates of motor vehicle accidents; unintentional ingestion of cannabis products by children; and the relationship between cannabis use and use of other drugs.

The association said that should the government decide to proceed with legalisation, it should adopt a harm reduction approach that focused on prevention, education, treatment and the implementation of a robust regulatory framework to ensure public safety and protection.

These measures were especially important to prevent uptake for those aged under 21 years since individuals with ongoing brain development were more at risk of adverse effects from cannabis use.

All this required the allocation of adequate financial and human resources with relevant expertise to implement, monitor and evaluate the regulatory framework, as well as monitor and evaluate the impact of the legislation.

MAPHM’s position against legalisation of recreational cannabis, it said, was is line with the position of other international medical associations including the American Medical Association and the World Medical Association.

Similarly, the Royal College of Physicians of London, the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal Society for Public Health were in favour of decriminalising but not legalising recreational cannabis.

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