Luke Caruana AD

Drug Policy: Putting People First – Luke Caruana

Both PN and PL have stated that they are open to a discussion on drug policy however AD has already discussed and analysed the success of different systems in various countries while we have also consulted reports issued by the United Nations Commission on Drugs.

Our Drug Policy for this Electoral Manifesto revolves around two main proposals: the decriminalisation of all drugs for personal use to focus on a more social and medical model and the legalisation and regularisation of natural cannabis. Criminalisation of drug users has failed, caused untold harm and makes matters even worse.

The drug problem shouldn’t be considered as a matter of public order but as a social and medical issue. Drug victims are to be provided with the necessary social, medical and mental care for their wellbeing. Although we have seen slight improvements in recent years, this hasn’t addressed the problem in a completely humane way. The police force is still wasting valuable resources on prosecuting drug dependent users rather than pursuing drug dealers. They are still chasing young people and dragging them through the criminal justice system.

We see things differently. AD wants to follow the success of the Portuguese model, where people with dependency issues are treated as patients and as people needing social support, not as criminals. Valuable time and resources should be invested in reducing fatalities and mental health and health issues such as HIV, AIDS and hepatitis. We believe that resources wasted in the criminal justice system do not solve anything and would rather use resources on youth, community and social workers, who work with and for communities, not just on drug use and with drug users but to build and sustain communities and support people where it really matters, in their communities.

The second part of our drug policy deals with cannabis. The effects of marijuana are similar to those found in alcohol, cigarettes, and certain prescription drugs. Despite of this, the possession of cannabis for personal use is still punishable by law in Malta. It is not true that cannabis use has been decriminalised, as some want us to believe. You will still find the police knocking at your door. They will still come after you, whether it is one joint or one plant.

It is about time that the use of cannabis is regularised. As a society we need to stop persecuting and wasting resources chasing cannabis users. The hypocrisy must stop. There are various systems of legal regulation of cannabis. There are various models to look into. Experts in the field should be roped in to go into details. Monitoring mechanisms can be set up to monitor and tweak regulations as experience is built up. But one thing is clear: cannabis use, growing cannabis for personal use and regulated channels through which natural cannabis is sold subject to tax as per tobacco and alcohol should be legal. The waste of time, resources and above all the criminalisation of people should stop once and for all.

Instead of chasing the wind, there are social issues to spend resources on. There is the serious issue of synthetic drugs to tackle. There are drug traffickers who manage to build whole empires and seem to be invincible. The other parties will use some unfortunate kid caught with a few pills to show that they are protecting your children. They will accuse each other of not dragging enough youngsters to court. They will sacrifice someone else’s kid in a show of force to convince you that the system is working. The truth is the other way round – the current system ruins people, it leaves the vulnerable without any help. Actually it makes matters worse by making criminals out of young people.

Luke Caruana
AD Candidate on Districts 12 & 13