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March to reform drug laws

Protesters marching in Valletta to tell the government they want marijuana legalised. Photo: Ryan Galea

Protesters marching in Valletta to tell the government they want marijuana legalised. Photo: Ryan Galea

Malta joined some 300 cities worldwide in holding a global marijuana march yesterday as they drummed up support for drug law reform.

Over 150 people gathered in front of the new parliament building at 4.20 p.m. – the world-renowned cannabis smoking hour – to take part in the march.

Clad in green ‘Legalise It, Malta!’ T-shirts, the youthful protesters held pro-marijuana placards aloft as they streamed down Republic Street calling for marijuana to be regulated and legalised.

Although Alternattiva Demo­kratika are in favour of drug decriminalisation (not legalisation) both the Labour and Nationalist parties have refused to even countenance the idea.

“Our energies should be directed towards legislators,” Legalise It Malta founder David Caruana told the crowd. “Don’t be afraid of telling politicians you won’t be voting for them when they start their house visits.”

Accusing politicians of “boundless hypocrisy”, Mr Caruana referred to Enemalta’s illegal burning of hazardous chemical mercaptan.

“We’re told marijuana is illegal for the sake of our health.

“But while a government entity can burn large amounts of a chemical which can lead to organ failure, you’re told you can’t smoke a joint.”

Most of the protesters The Sunday Times spoke to were reluctant to give their names and claimed that most of their friends had stayed away from the march for fear of being recognised and stigmatised.

Sound engineer Mark Agius, 26, said he was there to protest “a law which makes no sense and which legislates against some­­thing that actually does good, when taken in a controlled environment and where education is available”.

Francesca, 28, felt the government only stood to gain if it legalised marijuana and controlled its production, sale and distribution. “They’d rake in tax, control use and, for once, be innovators rather than lag behind other European countries.”

Tourists eagerly snapped photos of the protesters as they drummed and whistled their way through Valletta.

A woman with a British accent applauded, telling her friend: “I’ve been here for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve seen people fighting for this.”

A Latvian moot court delegation that happened to be outside the law courts grabbed a placard and posed for a photo on the stairs, prompting a delighted roar from protesters. But not everybody was in a celebratory mood.

Steve, a 32-year-old accountant, was hungry for change. “I’m not here to celebrate. In the eyes of the law, I’m a criminal. I don’t feel comfortable here, but I can’t just hide. Things need to change.”

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