Pubdate: Wed, 13 Feb 2013
Source: Times, The (Malta)
Copyright: 2013 Allied Newspapers Limited
Page: 5


Malta should stop making criminals of people in possession of drugs
for their personal use, Demokratika Alternattiva said yesterday.
Instead it should follow the "successful model" of Portugal, the Green
party said at a press conference.

Portugal reclassified drug possession from a criminal to an
administrative offence in 2001.

It placed great emphasis on drug treatment and prevention services ,
and encouraged addicts to seek help.

AD said the Portuguese model had successfully reduced drug deaths and
HIV infection rates.

"Education remains a key tool for policies on drugs," said AD chairman
Michael Briguglio.

Drug users should be aware of the effects of the substances they take
and should receive help if they seek it .

"But criminalising people for making use of drugs has been a failure
not only in terms of policy but. . . has resulted in a spiral of
hardships," Mr Briguglio said.

"Victims of drug addiction and dependency should be considered as
people in need of help and not as criminals."

A change in policy would also ensure that recreational drug users,
including those who cultivate soft drugs for personal use, were not
criminalised for their lifestyle, the chairman added.

AD citizenship spokesman Robert Callus said drugs should be
reclassified according to their effects.

Nurturing a cannabis plant for personal use should not be considered a
separate crime of cultivation , which carried a mandatory minimum
prison sentence, even if the user had no intention of selling the drugs.

The Government and the Labour Party have consistently reiterated their
opposition to drug decriminalisation.
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