The recent cannabis legalisation in Malta, enabling responsible use of cannabis within defined limits, has not led to the normalisation of cannabis use or encouraged new users, according to Karen Mamo, Policy, Research, and Harm Reduction Manager at the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC).
In an interview for independent.com.mt, Karen Mamo talks about the work of the newly established ARUC organisation. She also highlights its focus on harm reduction, education, and human rights. Karen Mamo’s work in the newly formed ARUC is creating the Harm Reduction Department from scratch, which is a fresh idea for Malta.
“After legalisation” discussion
The harm reduction strategies have been used to reduce heroin usage since the early 1990s in Malta. However, the application of these strategies to cannabis represents an important development. ARUC will be dealing with health-related hazards of course. However, the organisation also wants to educate the public about legal risks and how policy affects different people.
The decriminalisation model adopted in Malta follows the concepts of risk and damage reduction, preventing people from being involved with the legal system as a result of cannabis usage.
In addition to serving as a regulator, ARUC also serves as a centre for education, distributing messages of prevention. The authority wants to have a conversation with cannabis users. They want to promote appropriate usage, and make sure that these people are not a target of the police. ARUC aspires to create complete understandings of cannabis usage and effective harm reduction techniques.
For the founders, leaders, and officers of the Cannabis Harm Reduction Associations, ARUC is actively creating training courses. These courses address a range of cannabis-related subjects, such as psychology, well-being, and physical and mental health. The aim is to empower association members through extensive education with an emphasis on risk and harm minimisation. The associations will have to comply with the legal framework and will play a significant role in delivering cannabis products that have undergone rigorous testing and are safe. The procedure for training and certification guarantees continuing accountability and compliance.
Mamo says that cannabis usage in Malta continues to be much lower than in countries with stronger rules. It removes any worries that the changes to the law may result in a rise in cannabis use. Cannabis usage and possession are still prohibited in Malta under the country’s legal system. However, the formation of the legislation and the authorities will both discourage consumers from becoming criminals and promote a transition from the black market to the regulated associations. The emphasis is still on preserving a responsible cannabis environment.
Approach of Malta towards cannabis – summary
Malta regulates cannabis with a focus on public health, education, and harm reduction. Malta maintains a strict system of regulation that forbids marketing and places a priority on public health over business, in contrast to countries that follow commercialization models with heavy marketing. The authority wants to modify how people view marijuana in society and fight stigmatisation. The focus on education and appropriate usage is in line with cigarette and alcohol laws now in place, encouraging polite conduct and preventing harm to others.
The Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis’ creation in Malta marks an important change in Malta’s drug-policy approach. The authority prioritises human rights, education, and damage prevention. Preventing criminalization, protecting people, and promoting responsible cannabis usage are the objectives. The authority works to establish a secure and controlled cannabis environment by connecting with the community and setting up broad education programs. Malta wants to serve as an example for other nations contemplating different approaches to cannabis legislation through these initiatives.