A CALL to legalise the use of cannabis that has been brought into focus by the charity Stay Clean and the Equality Rights Group has received a sympathetic response from the Minister for Health, Neil Costa.
He said that he believes the Government should consult the whole community on whether the personal use of cannabis should be decriminalised.
Mr Costa made his statement in a recently broadcast television interview in which he stated that in Portugal, the only European country to have taken that step, it was reported that the result was a decrease in drugs usage.
In their joint statement the two groups pressing for decriminalisation of cannabis argue that the authorities should take control of the issue rather than leave it in the hands of the ‘mafias’.
They claim that awareness and regulation have been more effective than criminalisation in reducing criminal harm caused by tobacco and alcohol.
ERG chairman Felix Alvarez says it is proven that cannabis can provide relief from acute or chronic pain, while the head of Stay Clean, Damian Broton, says cannabis is generally considered comparable to accepted social drugs like alcohol.
However Mr Broton emphasised that advocating regulation of cannabis does not mean treating all drugs in the same way, and is not synonymous with blanket decriminalisation.