Malta Today reports
The cannabis legalisation platform ReLeaf Malta has reiterated a call for the full decriminalisation of adult cultivation of cannabis by 2021.
The cannabis law reform group said the Maltese government should prioritise the right to health and privacy for cannabis consumers, with full decriminalisation of adult consumption, ensuring no more persons go through the harrowing experience of the criminal justice system.
ReLeaf is advocating for a larger quantity margin for cannabis possession, and a consultative council composed of various stakeholders to develop a rights-based policy for cannabis users.
Under Malta’s Drug Dependence (Treatment not Imprisonment) Act, a person found in possession of “a small amount of drugs” for personal use is required to appear in front of the Commissioner of Justice, facing a fine up to €100 for cannabis possession.
A second offence in two years requires appearing before the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board, to be assessed for drug dependence, of which failure to appear could incur a three-month prison sentence. A person found in possession of one cannabis plant for personal use is not liable to a mandatory prison term.
“When one looks at the numbers pertaining to cannabis consumption in Malta, the estimated 40,000 reported by a government study earlier this year, highlight that the use and sale of cannabis, irrespective of its legal status, is up and running,” ReLeaf said in a statement.
The 2019 National Drug Report highlighted that 110 cases of cannabis possession cases were decided in a criminal court in 2016, while from 2,710 possession cases initiated that year, 57% were for simple possession of cannabis.
“Most drug law offences in 2017 were related to possession, with the majority of these related to cannabis… the report specifically underlines that cannabis is the only illicit drug known to be produced in the country, mostly on a small scale for personal use.”
ReLeaf said Malta’s “half-baked legislation and dubious implementation measures” indicate an inconsistency in the judiciary’s approach. “In some instances, persons who consume cannabis are treated as criminals and given harsh sentences in criminal courts, whereas in other instances the court has declared that over 100g of cannabis can be considered as an amount intended for the personal use of a regular cannabis consumer.”