Today, a 45-year old man from Bormla by the name of Louis Lia was sentenced to rot in prison for 3 years along with a €3,000 fine for the cultivation of 8 plants of marijuana. Today is another day where the justice system of this country has put a man in jail for the cultivation and consumption of a plant. It is especially ridiculous when one considers that, in the US for example, states which have legalised marijuana (link to the original article here) have, amongst several other things, reported the following:
- Reported reduced incarceration rates (and the benefit of saving millions of dollars in law enforcement expenses),
- Conducted research which points out several beneficial effects of marijuana (shrinking aggressive brain tumours, epilepsy and other seizure disorders along with reduction of stress, anxiety and depression to name a few),
- Created tens of thousands of new jobs thanks to the marijuana industry (Colorado created 10,000 new jobs on its own).
Upon reading the story of Mr Lia, I remembered that I had sent a message to the Prime Minister’s Facebook page about a year ago. At the time, I was a supporter of the Labour party, and I genuinely believed that at least a secretary or an office assistant might at least read the messages and take note of whatever people might have said on something as easily accessible as a Facebook page. I would like to ask those who are reading this article and share the same opinion to read it below, and pass it on to your friends on social media. Let this letter be our collective outcry for a serious discussion on the topic, and let us all voice our opinion on an issue which needs to be talked about.
His Excellency Dr Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta,
before speaking about anything at all I would like to congratulate you on the fortitude you displayed when addressing the Opposition during your Budget speech, as you showed all the traits of a born economist and a good leader. I, for one, am glad you are the one who is steering our economy through times during which other countries are failing to keep themselves fiscally afloat.
Now, I would like to get to the point of this message as I am certain a man such as yourself has a lot of things to do and very little time to do them. I have been a follower of the argument about the controlled legalisation of drugs for quite a few years, and I believe that it is the way forward for a problem of this scale to be controlled. The figures below have been derived from official US government records available for everyone to see (if you know where to look), and I believe if anyone should see them, it would be you as Prime Minister of this country:
- i) $51 billion – the amount of money the United States government spends on the war on drugs annually.
- ii) 1.53 million – the number of people arrested annually on non-violent drug charges.
iii) 757,696 – the number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation annually, 87% of which were arrested for possession only.
- iv) 70,000 – the number of lives lost in the Mexican drug wars since 2006.
- v) 200,000 – the number of students studying in America who lost federal financial aid ability because of a drug conviction.
- vi) 31,758 – the number of people in the U.S. that die each year from an accidental/intentional drug overdose. The number of people who have lost their lives to a marijuana overdose in recorded history? 0.
vii) $46.7 billion – the dollar value of the tax revenue that drug legalisation would yield annually. Coupled with the cost of the war on drugs, legalisation would save the government nearly $100 billion.
I believe these numbers are too large to ignore, and I am certain that a leader with your capabilities understands this. Legalisation of cannabis would lead to a more prosperous economy (Colorado and Washington spring to mind as examples of this), less people serving jail time for doing something which is literally harming nobody and less people being exposed to organised crime in order to obtain cannabis (thus, this would be hitting two birds with one stone – eliminating a major source of revenue for organised crime and giving people safe access to something which they are going to buy anyway, regardless of whether it is legal or not).
Before I conclude my argument, I would like to state that I was elated to see that your Government is already leading the way forward with the White Paper regarding personal use, but I do think that this is only a small step in a very long journey. In my humble opinion, I believe this would be a bold political master stroke which would not only benefit the country as a whole, but would also make your present term in office a revolutionary one which would be remembered for a very long time.
Yours sincerely and with respect, Julian Delia”