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Decriminalise not legalise

With reference to the article entitled ‘Legalise drugs for personal use – AD’ (The Sunday Times, October 28) I would like to clarify that the policy of Alternattiva Demokratika is for the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, not legalisation.

Legalisation has to do with selling drugs in the market. This is not our stand. Decriminalisation means that consuming and possessing drugs for personal use will not remain a crime. This position is also shared by Malta’s national drug agency, Sedqa.

Legislation on alcohol and other drugs should be reformed so that people who are victims of drugs can be helped. This is why decriminalisation of drugs for personal use should be introduced.

Education remains a key tool for policies on drugs. People should be conscious of their various effects and know where to search for help if they think they have a problem.

But criminalising people for making use of drugs has been a failure not only in terms of social policy but, even more so, with respect to those whose criminalisation has resulted in a spiral of hardship.

We also ask for a sharp distinction between soft and hard drugs. Not considering the huge difference between say heroin and cannabis when it comes to sentencing drug traffickers, is just a motive for the latter to invest in more deadly drugs – where the big money is.

Another important point is correcting the anomaly that cultivating for personal use is considered a separate crime from ‘simple possession’ and punished with sentences equivalent to drug trafficking.

AD’s policy is based mostly on Portugal’s highly success-ful model of decriminalisa-tion, which has been in place since 2001.

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