Today, Friday, the OASI Foundation organised a National Conference under the Patronage of President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, titled 'Drug Law Reform – a Year After.'
The conference, moderated by Dr. Andrew Azzopardi, consisted in a panel of professionals in the field of addiction who discussed what happened during this year since the Reform on the Drug Law came into act.
President Maire-Louise Coleiro Preca, in her opening speech said that drug law reform was an important step, as it is vital to be proactive, however we must also periodically review this reform, to see what is working and identify issues that can be improved upon, emphasising the importance of involving NGOs and other stakeholders in this process. She also spoke about the importance of information and prevention campaigns.
Experts in their respective fields, including Mr. Manuel Gellel, Dr. Kathleen Grima, Ms. Victoria Scicluna, Superintendent Dennis Theuma, Mrs. Marietta Lanzon, and Dr. Franco Debono, gave their perspective on the reform and its effects.
All praised the new law as bringing a much needed emphasis on treating drug dependency as a health issue, rather than punishing drug users. There was also a panel of journalists including Peppi Azzopardi, Pamela Hansen and Ivan Martin who challenged the professionals' points.
The audience was an active participant in the debate, and included representatives from diverse fields, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, educators, persons working with youths and students, as well as agencies with direct ties to drug issues and drug users, including Sedqa and Caritas.
At the end of the conference there were speeches by Natalino Attard – Director General in the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government on behalf of Dr. Owen Bonnici, Dr. Chris Said – Shadow Minister for Gozo on behalf of Dr. Jason Azzopardi and Fr. Emmanuel Cordina, Director General of the OASI Foundation.