By José Ramos-Horta / Times of Malta
Cannabis is the most widely used illegal substance around the world, accounting for an estimated 192 million consumers out of the 269 million people reported to have used drugs in 2018. In Malta, this trend proves true as well, with a prevalence of cannabis use of 4.3 per cent among adults.
These figures, in Malta and abroad, are reported by governments and based on data of people arrested or on those who sought emergency care and are conservative and partial as people with unreported occasional cannabis use or personal production of small quantities might be much more numerous.
These figures, nevertheless, highlight that current drug policies, based on repression and aimed at eliminating drug use and trafficking, have clearly failed to achieve any of their objectives: in Malta as elsewhere, use, consumption and trafficking are increasing steadily. In addition, over-incarceration, budgetary displacements towards law enforcement rather than health and social services as well as social stigma are just few of the harms aggravated by repressive drug control.
In the face of the failures of drug control – while the ‘war on drugs’ continuously rages on – the consumption of cannabis has increased globally from 147 million to 192 million consumers in two decades, requiring a new response to cannabis control globally. This needed response must combine the decriminalisation of the possession and of consumption of cannabis on one hand and the decriminalisation of the production of quantities needed for one’s own needs on the other.