Opinion by MARLENE HASSAN NAHON, leader 'Together Gibraltar'

The Chief Minister is in no position to say that Together Gibraltar is trying to start a dangerous drugs experiment on the Rock. Maintaining the status quo and conveniently brushing serious issues like these under the carpet by twisting what has been said is what is dangerous and irresponsible. It is through constant close contact with recovering addicts that we have first-hand evidence of this portfolio not being given the importance it deserves, and that as a result, many people in our community are suffering daily.

The concept of decriminalisation, as analysed by a host of global experts like the United Nations, the British Medical Association and the Global Commission on Drugs (see links in ‘notes to editors’) is no ‘experiment’ and has proved to lead to better social outcomes. People who are in the know are fully aware of this, but the Government ignores them, and focuses on maximising electoral gains.


The community wants a system that yields positive results and ends drug abuse altogether. After nearly eight years, the government have failed to deliver any results on this issue and we are beginning to seriously question whether any data exists at all.

This is a public health issue as much as legal one. Drug addicts must be treated with respect, support and the opportunity to reintegrate into society, as opposed to being stuck in a vicious circle of jail and petty crime. As it stands, many are unemployable as a result of their criminal records. In fact, it was only in November 2016, that one of Mr. Picardo’s own ministers, Neil Costa declared on Viewpoint that “the argument will be made for decriminalisation of personal consumption” hailing the positive social results from decriminalisation in “the Portugese experience”.

He continued by saying: “If government can ensure that by removing criminal penalties, young people and not so young people who have got criminal convictions for drugs are going to be gainfully employed and are able to lead a happier life then I will be the first one to say that we need to do it.”

It would therefore be wise and responsible for the Chief Minister to check first with the line put out by those in his own cabinet, before embarrassing himself with contradictions and false accusations. Or is he, by default, suggesting that his own ministers are dangerous too?


Further, allowing religious dogma to influence decision-making by placing it on par with medical and scientific evidence sets a dangerous precedent. Well researched policy backed by reputable international authorities is all any government requires to take bold and important decisions on substance abuse.

In terms of a moral stance, it beggars belief that this government purports to have any form of moral high ground. Perhaps the pensioners, the teachers, the impoverished, those who cannot afford to buy or rent a home and the actual victims of drug pushers should be invited by Government to offer their views on the GSLP/Libs moral standing?

Also perilous is that the Chief Minister should see any form of dissent as “unnecessarily combative” as if any view contrary to his own is ‘unnecessary’ in a democratic society. And going through the effort to distort our words for electoral purposes while he is supposedly on an important Brexit mission in London speaks volumes.

The drugs problem is a ticking time bomb in our society. It’s time it was taken seriously.