Malta’s Drug Report for 2021 revealed that there were 513 drug-related emergencies, five of which resulted in fatalities.
The report, which was published on Friday by Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon, indicated that cocaine and synthetic cannabis (SCRA) were the primary drugs for which individuals sought medical attention due to intoxication.
In 2021, 273 emergency cases were attributed to cocaine, while SCRA cases increased from 49 in 2020 to 100 in 2021.
The report also disclosed that there were 256 drug law offenses in 2021, with 142 cases related to possession and 114 to trafficking. Cannabis was the most frequently seized substance by law enforcement, accounting for 144 of the 256 cases.
While aspects of cannabis recreational use were decriminalized in December 2021, trafficking remains a criminal offense.
Drug seizures remained relatively unchanged in 2021, possibly due to pandemic-related restrictions. The report recorded a significant increase in cannabis resin seizures, rising from 0.36kg in 2020 to 272kg in 2021.
Additionally, 762kg of cocaine were seized in 2021, up from 525kg in 2020. Police also seized 187kg of cannabis grass in 2021, an increase from 151kg in 2020. There was a reduction in heroin seizures, from nearly 2kg in 2020 to 0.64kg in 2021.
The report showed that 1,990 people were receiving drug rehabilitation treatment, with 50% of cases linked to heroin addiction. Of those seeking rehabilitation, 80% were previously treated for their addiction.
According to Minister Falzon, the rise in the number of people receiving treatment is attributable to heightened awareness, rather than an increase in drug consumption.
Since the establishment of the drugs tribunal in 2015, the number of individuals appearing before the Commissioner of Justice has increased from 135 in 2015 to 815 in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of cases declined to 287 in 2020 and 351 in 2021.