Message on the Malta white paper on cannabis

Message send to the Malta government, Amsterdam 04-05-2021

With this message as secretary of the Cannagenethics Foundation I would like to comment on the Malta White paper on cannabis and my compliment for a compact and clear outline of the White paper.

In your paper you write:
‘Malta ratified three United Nations Conventions, which shape the international law framework of the global drug control regime: 
– The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 (SCND); 
– The Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971; and 
– The Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988. 

These international treaties make it mandatory for member States to criminalise the production, sale, and possession of cannabis for non-medicinal or scientific purposes. In the context of these treaties, therefore, the legalisation of cannabis is not permitted. By means of its Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA of 25 October 2004, and the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985, the European Union also adopted the abovementioned Conventions in respect of the minimum criteria in the area of illicit drug trafficking. It follows therefore that Malta, as a Member State, is also doubly obliged to follow suit’.

My comment on this is: Why you did not refer to the Convention on Biological Diversity in respect to cannabis genetics in your white paper? After all this is also a relevant international convention, as i will explain: 

This convention was established in Rio de Janeiro in 1993 and has 196 signing parties and has by far the most signatures of all international conventies altogether; indicating it’s weight and significance for safeguarding life on earth. This convention is important for preserving indigenous genetics for current and future generations.
As a dutch humanistic researcher and secretary of the Cannagenethics Foundation during a Dutch cannabis regulation proposal i contacted dutch Members of Parliament of the green, labour, socialist and liberal democrat parties on this matter; if and how cannabis genetics is also included  in the regulation proposal under the scope of the Convention on Biological Diversity ratified by the Dutch government? And as a consequence of article 1 of this convention the government wanted to sponsor a non profit cannabis genenbank foundation under the regulations of the Convention of Biodiversity (MAT/PIC Mutually Agreed Terms and Prior informed Consent)? 
Members of the Dutch Parliament then filed questions on this matter during the first fases of the regulation proposal bill. A confirmative answer followed that indeed cannabis falls under the scope of this convention, but i was surprised that no further action followed on this matter in the following procedures of the regulation bill for an experiment proposal for a limited regulation for only 10 cities when the dutch government prepared the answers and i even had members of the Senate repeat this issue. 

Genetic materials are a living heritage and we are their custodians. We must concentrate our efforts to collect, preserve, characterize and utilize the remaining Cannabis genetic resources before it is too late …As the worldwide reduction in Cannabis diversity continues, the importance of genetic preservation becomes more obvious. Unfortunately, no comprehensive Cannabis germplasm collections exist.

Only in 2016 did the Dutch government ratify the Convention on Biodiversity and in line of this the Nagoya Protocol.
In my observation that there is not a clear European and Dutch policy yet on preserving genetic material and specially not when a precarious plant as cannabis is involved. Biodiversity does get public funding when it comes down to protecting ecosystems, but preservation of genetic material remains still much forgotten, while cannabis due to the prohibition regime needs  the most protection. Preserving valuable genetics due to destroying cannabis needs attention in Malta too, specially for the meaning for medical cannabis issue; With your white paper you make positive steps for more ratio when i comes down to cannabispolicy, but i do miss the explicit preserving cannabis genetics paragraph, so this is my main comment on your interesting white paper.

Hopefully Malta is willing to consider to include the preservation of genetic material, specially original landraces of cannabis variaties grown in Malta under the international obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity.  

Look out for your reply if you are willing to include the preservation of cannabis variaties (original genetics) in Malta and elsewhere in your future policy. I will continue to ask for attention here in Holland on the matter, first i have to wait for a formation of a new government after the elections in march, hopefully without the christian conservatives.
My compliments for the White paper again any way, a very positive development to be welcomed in Europe! 

Best regards, drs. Hester Kooistra from Amsterdam (humanistic researcher and secretary of Cannagenethics Foundation).

Cannagenethics Foundation