Mariella Dimech, the government’s first cannabis regulator who was fired after ten months in office, has been given another government position, this time advising on drug use prevention.
Last July, eight months after her departure as the first executive chair of the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC), Dimech was given a fresh consultancy by Labour Family Minister Michael Falzon to offer him “advice on the prevention of drug abuse.”
Falzon’s ministry already has a number of professionals from the government agency Sedqa working on these matters, providing expert and professional advice related to drug use.
Her appointment came at a time when the government was issuing licences to new cannabis clubs, allowing small groups to grow their own drugs and distribute them among members.
Sources at the agency told The Shift that Dimech’s latest consultancy, awarded through direct order, was to compensate for her removal from her previous position.
According to the Government Gazette, Dimech will make €21,000 a year from the consultancy.
Still, this is a far cry from the €82,000 contract given to her in her cannabis role.
Although Dimech’s sudden departure from ARUC was never explained by the government, she was criticised in the media, especially by pro-cannabis lobby groups, for not delivering.
Dimech, 60, became a psychotherapist after graduating from the University of Malta as a mature student.
She started her career as an air hostess in Saudi Arabia and joined Caritas after a stint in the tourism industry.
While at Caritas, Dimech vehemently opposed the legalisation of cannabis, insisting on TV shows that the drug’s regularisation would be harmful to society.
However, she aligned with the Labour Party government when they announced legislation to allow the growing of cannabis for personal use and provisions for it to be sold and shared with members of cannabis clubs.
Dimech also presented several state-sponsored TV programmes produced by her brother and chief government spin doctor and Malta Today co-owner Saviour Balzan.