Wuthering Heights on a nascent Sea of Green

Many have forgotten about Daniel Holmes, Christopher Bartolo, Marie-Claire Camilleri, the hundreds of people incarcerated and the thousands more with a tainted police record for the possession, cultivation and sharing of cannabis.  

WE have not. 

Many ignore the plies of cannabis consumers lamenting poor quality and tampered cannabis, or worse of being sold a synthetic or sprayed product.  

WE have not. 

Many conveniently embarked on a scaremongering campaign instead of promoting education and a more respectful and inclusive dialogue.  

WE have not. 

These are just a few of the wuthering heights battering a nascent Sea of Green for Malta and the introduction of a less criminal and punitive approach to cannabis consumption, cultivation and sharing.   

ReLeaf Malta remains committed to counter the ongoing witch-hunt and coordinated attempts at dehumanising and discrediting the voice of people who consume cannabis. Building our core messages on human rights, justice, social equity and sustainability, together with our team of collaborators we have always provided evidence-based information and balanced proposals advocating for a more just, less punitive and inclusive approach.  

Our work and determination to push forward a human rights agenda could not have been possible without close dialogue and collaboration with foreign institutions and experts in the field of drug policy. To mention just a few, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policy (ENCOD), DrugScience spearheaded by Prof. David Nutt, Transnational Institute, VolteFace, Drugs n Me, the International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS), and the Global Commission for Drug Policy (GCDP).  

Today, Malta has finally been presented with a comprehensive legislative framework that aims to be a first step towards a more just and healthy society. The 20 proposals set forward by the Government, together with the consultation process which took place in the first quarter of 2021 are a clear indication of the State’s commitment to push forward increased human rights for ALL.  

The 20 proposals set forward by the Government, together with the consultation process, are a clear indication of the State’s commitment to push forward increased human rights for ALL.

Although the proposed law presents a partially decriminalised system and has margin for improvement, it is a bold statement in favour of a more responsible approach, both from the user side and from the legislator side, on how cannabis consumption, cultivation and sharing should be addressed. In full respect of basic human rights, including the right to health, privacy and freedom of assembly, the proposed Bill takes a broad understanding of issues related to cannabis and includes changes that are conscious of the important nexus between law enforcement approaches and society’s perceptions about cannabis and cannabis consumers.  

Published in 2019, ReLeaf Malta’s proposal for a regulated and legalised cannabis market by 2020 acted as a catalyst to further spur discussions on the health and social benefits of a regulated non-commercialised market. It is therefore very encouraging that the Government has finally recognised the advantages of giving cannabis consumers the necessary legal safeguards and tools to consume cannabis in a responsible way. Whilst recognising that the amounts proposed are still somewhat low, especially for people who intend to transform their produce into oil or edibles, the set of proposals are an initial laudable step that will also place Malta at the helm of drug policy reform in Europe and throughout the world.  

The focus on Harm Reduction and privacy for cannabis consumers is imperative to ensure the wrong doings and abuses of the past no longer hinder the well-being and livelihoods of nonviolent law-abiding citizens. Complemented with the possibility to grow cannabis and form an association to collectively pool in resources and knowledge (without the need to resort to the criminal market), are important public health developments. Presently an adult that wishes to consume cannabis is unable to choose the THC:CBD ratio and is also unable to ensure their product is free from mould or other adulterants. This type of information, together with other harm reduction tips amongst which on tolerance breaks, increased risks of dependence when mixing cannabis with tobacco, risks when consuming alcohol and cannabis etc, are imperative to ensure cannabis consumers take informed, reasoned, and responsible decisions.  

As Malta finds itself at a very important juncture, choosing to go green in a non-commercial manner is of pivotal importance for the whole of society, and not only people who consume cannabis.  

ReLeaf Malta augurs’ discussions in the House of Representatives are of a mature and informed nature, without further dehumanising the capabilities and qualities of people who consume cannabis.  

The voice of people who consume cannabis should continue to be at the helm of every decision taken and ensure deceiving and divisive wuthering tactics make way for a more inclusive, lush, and nascent Sea of Green.  

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