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MALTATODAY 19 December 2021

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12 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 DECEMBER 2021 LUKE VELLA THE law establishing Malta's regulator for recreational can- nabis and amending cannabis activities, entered into force yesterday. The law provides the possibil- ity of cultivating up to a maxi- mum of four plants in house- holds for personal use, as well as the creation of a regularised and safe source from which a person can obtain cannabis and cannabis seeds in limited and controlled amounts, under strict conditions. The latter will happen through the introduc- tion of strictly regulated outlets, operated by non-profit associa- tions, and registered with the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis. Bonnici said this new legisla- tive framework will clearly at- tack illegal trafficking of canna- bis, the black market, and crime associated with this activity. But the Nationalist Party criti- cised the enactment of the legal notices, insisting that the law was "normalising drug use". The PN said the recreation- al cannabis law had the widest form of opposition, yet had been signed into law despite the warnings of public and mental health experts. "What is even more serious is that the law has been intro- duced right before the Christ- mas holidays and New Year, a time known for higher con- sumption of drugs," the PN said. The party criticised the enact- ment of the law without the set- ting-up of the cannabis regula- tor, saying this was the "greatest gift" to drug traffickers "to get richer on the misery of others." "Abela's irresponsible behav- iour has created the biggest drugs market that has ever ex- isted. The PN demands that the law is repealed immediately, or it will take the necessary meas- ures in the parliament to repeal it." Equality minister Owen Bonn- ici said the "strong and robust re- form" allowing the dispensation of cannabis and home-growing was being implemented "in the way society perceives and treats citizens who make responsible and genuine use of cannabis, while curbing illegal trafficking and creating a new regulatory framework to protect minors and society at large." Bonnici said the govern- ment would still invest in pro- grammes of prevention against all substance abuse. "At the same time, the government be- lieves that it should respond to the realities in society and ter- minate the constant and unjust hardship and humiliation which the criminalisation of adults who choose to make responsi- ble use of cannabis brings about through their arrests or arraign- ments in front of tribunals or courts," Bonnici said. He added that the necessary precautions and legal safe- guards will be undertaken with the imposition of new and sub- stantial fines in order to protect minors and the general public. "At the same time education- al and preventive efforts in schools, communities and oth- er places against drug use will continue with particular focus on young people," Bonnici said. Persons who in the past have been convicted by a criminal court for a crime which now has been decriminalised, will now be able to expunge that judgment from their conduct certificate with a simple written request, without the need of fil- ing fresh Court applications. The reform on responsible use of cannabis follows an electoral pledge and extensive consulta- tion process culminating in the launch of a White Paper last March. The consultation pro- cess had attracted 350 submis- sions. "The entry into force of this robust legislative framework underlines this government's willingness to make bold deci- sions by implementing wise and unprecedented reforms in or- der to bring about change and social justice in the best inter- ests of society as a whole," Bon- nici said. Bonnici moves fast on cannabis regulator, PN demands repeal of legal notice PN leader Bernard Grech (left) said his party will take all measures necessary in the House if the cannabis law is not repealed

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