By Péter Sárosi
For a long time, Malta had a repressive approach to drugs, but there is an increasing understanding and acceptance of harm reduction measures now. We interviewed Karen Mamo, a researcher and harm reduction professional.
Drugreporter: Can you please speak about your personal background – what made you interested in drug policy and harm reduction as a researcher? What harm reduction activities do you do beside your academic work?
Karen Mamo: I am 32 years old and my academic background is quite a varied one. In fact, at University I studied Italian language and literature. I later moved into the world of conflict resolution and Mediterranean security, and last October I enrolled for a Master of Science in Addiction studies. I was always intrigued by substance use, and considering that Malta introduced legislative changes in 2015 (small amounts of drugs depenalised), during the same time I started doing personal research about cannabis and policy. In reality, it was Prof. David Nutt’s book, Drugs without the Hot Air that encouraged me to question what I have been taught till now and to re-configured my view about substances and people who use substances. During these years I was also reaching out to foreign NGOs working in the field of harm reduction and trying to explore how Malta too could introduce this important public health concept. I am very grateful to collaborate with UK-based Talking Drugs and Drugs & Me, but also had the opportunity to participate in the general assembly meeting of the ENCOD in 2019. (Links to these organisations can be found here!). To further expand my outreach, in September 2019 I set up the first harm reduction stand at the Bubble Festival and earlier this year a harm reduction page on facebook. I also held a number of meetings with the University of Malta’s administration and Student Council. Unfortunately, I had to scale back my work due to Covid-19. However, I look forward to revamping my harm reduction advocacy in the coming months.