Following the approval of the cannabis bill by the Maltese government and its signing into law by the country’s president, Malta’s psychiatric body has openly criticised the move.
According to the Times of Malta, the Malta Association of Psychiatry said that the lack of planning surrounding the country’s new cannabis laws was “frankly frightening and irresponsible.”
The criticism came after the parliament backed the Responsible Use of Cannabis bill to make the country the first in the European Union to liberate its cannabis market.
The bill passed despite arguments from opposition parties – hand in hand with the church and other NGOs – against the change to drug policy.
However, the governing party and the prime minister promised a free cannabis market in their election manifesto before the last general election in Malta.
The new law will allow the consumption of recreational use, while possession, to a limited amount, will no longer be prohibited.
The bill was also crafted to shield the public and children from cannabis use, so all those wanting to use or cultivate cannabis will need to meet a number of criteria.
For example, using cannabis in public will still be prohibited and when it comes to cultivation (for personal use, of course), the plants must not be visible from the street or other public places.
The Maltese government is reportedly also serious about expunging the criminal records of those who have been convicted for the possession of cannabis for personal use.
Despite all the effort made by those crafting the new drug policy, psychiatrists are reportedly not satisfied.
They said: “Unfortunately the calls we, experts in mental health, made to lawmakers in the run up to the passing of the cannabis bill fell on deaf ears.
“While we recognise that for the majority of people, smoking cannabis is inconsequential, for a few it can have devastating consequences, such as anxiety, depression and psychotic disorders.
“We implore that lawmakers, policy makers and ministers are fully prepared to assist those that do.”
The association is calling for a number of changes, including introducing an evidence-based measures capping the limit of THC and raising the minimum age of consumption from 18 years to 25 years.