Volt Response to Cannabis Whitepaper

Volt Response to Cannabis Whitepaper

22 Apr 2021
Our solution is to make the content of the whitepaper viable in the long-term
volt malta cannabis white paper response

> Increase Possession for Personal use to 25 grams

> Pilot Cannabis Social Clubs

> Implement Portuguese Model on Decriminalising Drugs

Volt Malta will be submitting a number of suggestions to the public consultation, among which are the following;

The limit on possession of cannabis for personal use should increase to 25 grams, just as in Portugal where it is seen as equivalent to a 10-day supply. If a household cultivating its own cannabis, and the plants yield more than 25 grams per person, then the household is obliged to document and inform the *Recreational Drug Authority.

The dedicated Cannabis Authority should in fact be called a dedicated *Recreational Drugs Authority and would commission studies, propose improvements to the system, propose guidelines on all forms of drugs, and not just cannabis. 

Possession of more than 25 grams should not result in penalties for first-time offenders, however, repeat offenders should be evaluated by an expert body similar to the Portuguese local Commission for Dissuasion of Drug Addiction which consists of a legal expert, and two either medical professionals, social workers or sociologists. Repeat offences would result in civil penalties or community service and mandated treatment on drug abuse. Additionally, driving under the influence of cannabis should be penalised in a similar manner as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Instead of having minors who appear before the Commissioner for Justice and the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board receiving penalties being of an administrative nature, which usually implies that parents will have to pay fees, we suggest community service, and mandated treatment on drug abuse. 

We also would like to pilot the introduction of cannabis social clubs in Malta, using best practice examples as seen wherever else it has been implemented successfully. 

While we understand legalising cannabis would go against international law which Malta is a signatory of - Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs - we acknowledge that a growing number of countries are breaking international law such as Canada, and Malta along with the EU as a whole should push for reform at the UN level to better reflect the realities of today.

Furthermore, we reiterate that our primary objective here is to shift the focus discourse towards decriminalisation of drugs akin to the Portuguese model, which has been effective at tackling drug abuse, the black market and tackling HIV/AIDS which is on the rise in Malta.

More in depth, the benefits of the Portuguese model are as follows

  • There is essentially no relationship between the punitiveness of a country’s drug laws and its rates of drug use. Instead, drug use tends to rise and fall in line with broader cultural, social or economic trends.
  • Number of newly diagnosed HIV cases declined from 1,016 to 56 between 2001 and 2012, note that between 2019-2020 there were 72 new cases
  • Downward trend has been observed for cases of Hepatitis C and B among clients of drug treatment centres, despite an increase in the number of people seeking treatment.
  • Deaths due to drug use have decreased significantly – from approximately 80 in 2001, to 16 in 2012
  • Rates of past-year and past-month drug use among the general population – which are seen as the best indicators of evolving drug use trends – have decreased, and Lifetime drug use among the general population has increased slightly, in line with trends in comparable nearby countries, which in other words means, a few more people tried recreational drugs once, but fewer people use it continuously

Studies Cited

  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2011b) ‘Looking for a relationship between penalties and cannabis use’.
  • Reuter, P. and Stevens, A. (2007) ‘An Analysis of UK Drug Policy’, UK Drug Policy Commission.
  • Degenhardt, L. et al. (2008) ‘Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys’, PLoS Medicine, vol. 5, no. 7, pp. 1053-1067
  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2014) ‘Data and statistics’.
  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2012) ‘Country overview: Portugal
  • Hughes, C. E. and Stevens, A. (2010) op. cit., p. 1015.
  • Data for year 2001 taken from Hughes, C. E. and Stevens, A. (2012) op. cit., p. 107; data for year 2012 taken from Instituto da Droga e da Toxicodependência (2013), op. cit., p. 64.
  • Concurrent trends in neighbouring countries are discussed in Hughes, C. E. and Stevens, A. (2010) ‘What can we learn from the Portuguese decriminalization of illicit drugs?’, British Journal of Criminology, vol. 50, pp. 999-1022.
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2010) ‘Methodology—World drug report 2010’, p. 12.
  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2010) ‘2010 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe’, p. 10.