ReLeaf welcomes steps towards legalising medicinal cannabis
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ReLeaf Malta has applauded the Government’s recent steps towards legalising and regulating medicinal cannabis.
In a statement, the NGO remarked that, “this is a long overdue step in Malta’s healthcare, and it shows that the Government is taking note of a global shift towards the effective use of cannabis as a medicine.”
ReLeaf Malta is a recently formed community-based pressure group that seeks the regulation of cannabis in Malta through safe and sensible policies.
“We especially applaud the allowance of family doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis as they see fit, which is in line with our proposals in the ReLeaf Manifesto,” it said.
The NGO added that it also welcomed the issuance of licenses for those who would like to manufacture cannabis related products in Malta, something that was also proposed in the ReLeaf Manifesto.
“However, we must note with disappointment that there are certain measures in the proposed amendment to the 2015 Drug Dependency Act that we see as counterproductive,” ReLeaf said.
It pointed out that if these measures are included in the final amendment, “very little progress would have actually been done, and just like the 2015 Drug Dependency Act, it will be a case of too little being done, too late.”
According to the NGO, “it will condemn Maltese patients to continue to resort to the black market for their much needed medicine, as the situation is right now, and will show that the Government does not have Maltese patients best interests at heart.”
The amendment is proposing that patients need not only a prescription, and not only a “control card.”, but that each patient and doctor must get each individual prescription approved by the Superintendent of Health.
“This is a terrible approach to health, and will incapacitate the new system from the start.” it said.
ReLeaf stated that, “forcing a patient to have each and every prescription to be approved by the Superintendent of Health will only increase waiting times and bureaucracy, the opposite of what Minister Chris Fearne said he wanted to do with this amendment, and worst of all, it will continue to treat cannabis as something illicit instead of as a beneficial medicine.”
“This is not the approach the Government should be taking towards a medicine,” said the NGO. “We are also disappointed to see that only products with cannabis extracts will be available to Maltese patients, and not the cannabis flower.”
“Not allowing patients to access the natural plant to use as they would like – in tinctures, teas, oils, edibles, or via inhalation – is once again severely limiting a patient’s health options,” it said.
“Other countries’ inclusion of the cannabis flower as a medicine is due to the swiftness and speed of inhaling the cannabis medicine,” said ReLeaf, adding that “this is essential in treating chronic pain – such as found in Fibromyalgia – in an instant.”
The NGO argued that, forcing patients to buy expensive extracts when they could turn to the black market and buy a natural product from which they could make their own medicine, “will be a losing strategy for the Government, and will only strengthen the black market.”
“Thousands of Maltese cannabis users are now watching the Government’s next moves closely, and on behalf of them we would like to thank the Government for taking this important step towards regulating medicinal cannabis,” said ReLeaf.
It concluded by saying that, “however, if the amendment is half-baked, and does not put the needs of the patients first and foremost, then progress will only have been made on paper, and not in the real world.”