In its feedback to the Parliamentary Secretariat for Civil Rights and Reforms on the White Paper on Cannabis Policy, the Malta Sociological Association (registered Voluntary Organisation) proposed that the proposal and consultation exercise employs a social impact assessment process, to ensure greater outreach and deliberation with stakeholders.
"An SIA could produce valuable evidence for policy formation and implementation. Various methods, both quantitative and qualitative could be used within social impact assessments. The former refers to generalisable data especially through numbers, while the latter produce in-depth data on matters. Research methods in SIAs may therefore include, for example, quantitative perception surveys and qualitative methods which involve a deeper look into social realities."
"Besides, elite interviews may verify the advice, concerns and interpretations of persons who are experts or who have experience in the respective field under analysis."
"SIAs should involve the participation of different stakeholders, ideally through mixed research methods. Analytic indicators should be provided and the entire process should be subject to peer review by independent experts in the field. This means that if a study is being carried out by a team of scientists (social, natural etc.), this should be scrutinised by other independent scientists. This could help identify shortcomings and possible improvements to the same SIA."
"Social impact assessments should not be one-off exercises: To the contrary, they should be ongoing processes which engage with various stakeholders and which report back so as to ensure effective policy processes. They should also use complementary research methods so as to ensure reliable and valid data."
In its feedback, the MSA referred to international SIA standards, for example those set by the International Association for Impact Assessment, which is accessible from this link: