Five months after Legalize It! Malta and Moviment Graffitti’s first demonstration in favour of the decriminalization of cannabis, the two organizations have joined forces once again, this time in honour of the 14th Annual Global Marijuana march. Over 700 cities worldwide have participated since 1999, with the aim to promote cannabis culture as a personal lifestyle choice.
A 200-strong crowd gathered in front of the new Parliament building in Valletta for this cause, many decked in green and matching bright smiles. Placards could also be seen, bearing slogans such as ‘Invest in education, not detention’ and ‘No one should be denied a safe medicine’ amongst others. Under surveillance of several burly policemen, the demonstrators proceeded to march towards the law courts, with occasional chants of ‘Legalize it’ and a pleasant beat on drums. The general atmosphere was pleasant and cheerful as the crowd gathered in front of the law courts.
David Caruana, on behalf of Legalize It, proceeded to give his speech. Caruana, after thanking his audience for attending, proceeded to emphasize the need for a reform in our drug laws, which are, according to Caruana, ‘positively ancient’. A ray of light from the political sphere, he claimed, was the fact that Justice Minister Chris Said himself, a few weeks ago, acknowledged the need of a broader consensus on the decriminalization of cannabis – a clear sign that the taboo on the drug debate is slowly being lifted. Nonetheless the road ahead is still long, with none of the two major parties on the side of decriminalization. Caruana appealed to both parties to reconsider their position.
The past months have seen a sharp rise in the marijuana debate in Malta, mainly due to highly unpopular court judgments taken in relation to the cultivation and use of the drug. David Caruana condemned the present situation on our islands as being ‘hypocritical’; access to alcohol and tobacco, drugs in their own right, is easy, yet being found in possession of cannabis leads to serious legal consequences.
Pressure group Moviment Graffitti had already issued a statement on the issue, declaring that “the current system has not only failed, but will keep on failing, also causing huge problems to society in the form of corruption, organised crime and loss of resources, with the brunt of the problem being borne by the most vulnerable people in society.” Robert Louis Fenech on behalf of the organization added on to this declaration, condemning prohibition as being the root of the problem. The war on drugs is not to be fought through prohibition, Fenech reaffirmed, but through a proper legal framework within which the benefits of cannabis may be enjoyed and at the same time destroy the drug cartels currently in existence.
A bohemian-style concert before the law courts ended the march in good spirits, much to the bemusement and delight of onlookers and tourists.