[WATCH] Recreational cannabis amendments only after educational campaign

Malta in no rush to follow Canada’s legalisation of recreational cannabis as information campaign is set to be unveiled next year

Julia Farrugia Portelli is heading government's marijuana reform
Julia Farrugia Portelli is heading government's marijuana reform
The Labour government has an electoral mandate to carry out marijuana use reforms
The Labour government has an electoral mandate to carry out marijuana use reforms

Legalising marijuana for recreational use will be preceded by an informative campaign next year that highlights the dangers of drug use, Julia Farrugia Portelli said.

The Reforms Parliamentary Secretary said the educational campaign will be targeted at children and was necessary to set strong foundations for any reform.

She told MaltaToday that discussions with various stakeholders on legalising recreational marijuana were still underway.

Farrugia Portelli was answering questions on the progress of the promised reform in light of Canada’s legalisation of recreational marijuana last Wednesday.

She was coy on giving a time frame for the proposed reforms to see the light of day, insisting that the consultation process in Canada took four years.

Farrugia Portelli said government’s priority was to have an educational campaign in 2019 that also targeted adults who chose to make use of cannabis by highlighting the impact it could have on their work life and the dangers it posed when driving.

“If you choose to consume marijuana, you have to know the effects it will have both on yourself and those around you,” Farrugia Portelli said.

The Canadian government officially ended the prohibition on recreational marijuana, becoming the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalise weed.

The law allows individuals over the age of 18 or 19, depending on the province in which they live, to possess 30g on their person in public at a time. It also allows people to grow a limited number of cannabis plants at home.

The Canadian model includes stiff punishments for people who drive under the influence of marijuana.

Asked whether Malta would be replicating the Canadian model, Farrugia Portelli said the government hoped to create a Malta-specific model rather than copy that in other countries.

“Rather than copying Canada, the government hopes to create a better model. We will analyse what other countries have failed in, and learn from them,” Farrugia said. 

The parliamentary secretary said the consultation process will eventually include the public at large, before the government puts forward the necessary legal amendments to Parliament.

She insisted that the main aim behind the reform would be to eliminate illegalities and shut down drug trafficking.

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