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Emphasise drug use prevention, not punishment, AD says

Malta should follow the example of countries which decriminalised drugs for personal use, AD chairman Michael Briguglio said.

Addressing a news conference, he said:

“Education remains a key tool for policies on drugs. People should be conscious of their various effects and, if they seek help, they should receive it. But criminalising people for making use of drugs has been a failure not only in terms of policy but, even more so, with respect to those whose criminalisation has resulted in a spiral of hardships.

 “Personal use of drugs should be decriminalised. The victims of drug addiction and dependency are to be considered as persons in need of help and not as criminals. At the same time, decriminalisation also ensures that recreational drug users, including those who cultivate soft drugs for personal use, are not criminalised for their lifestyle”.

AD spokesman Robert Callus said: "With the emphasis being on punishment rather than prevention, treatment and harm reduction, the war on drugs is proving to be a miserable failure.

“A lot of countries are realising this and re-thinking their legislation. The most notable model is that of Portugal, which AD endorses. In Portugal hard drug addicts decreased by half in 10 years, and deaths and HIV also decreased following a successful health campaign.

Mr Callus said drugs should be classified according to their effect. Besides, certain anomalies should be corrected.

Nurturing a plant for one’s own use was not being treated as for personal use, but was considered a separate crime - of cultivation, that carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence, the equivalent of trafficking, even if the user had no intention to sell.

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