All You Need to Know about the Legalisation of Cannabis in Malta
Details about the recent cannabis white paper and new developments in its legalisation
After many years of pressure from cannabis activists, on March 30th, 2021, prayers have been answered and Malta has finally reached one step closer to the legalisation of marijuana.
Details about the Cannabis White Paper
On what started as a normal Tuesday, Malta’s Prime Minister, Robert Abela proposed, as part of a white paper, to reform the country’s marijuana laws. In this new reform, people in Malta will be allowed to cultivate up to four marijuana plants, specifically for their own exclusive and recreational use. The plants will also have to be grown in a space that is not visible to the public and can only be made use of by the people living in that house. At no point can these homegrown plants be sold to other third parties.
Another major element in the white paper is that it is no longer a criminal act for cannabis users who are found to be in possession of up to 7g of weed. Those users found in possession of between 7g and 28g will be subject to appear in front of a tribunal (but not court proceedings) where they can be charged a fee of €50 to €100.
The potential for cannabis clubs has also arisen from this white paper since the Prime Minister declared that he is going to keep his options open and listen to public consultation when it comes to legal sources for buying marijuana and its seeds.
Another major change is that people will be able to remove, what was known as, marijuana possession-related crimes from their criminal records.
In the coming months, a new government authority will be set up to overlook aspects related to making recreational use of marijuana. This authority will be tasked with commissioning research and proposing new guidelines as a way forward in the matter.
Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar, who spearheaded work on marijuana reform when she was serving as a junior minister, claimed that these new proposals will create a fairer system for responsible cannabis users.
Below is a rundown of what the government is proposing with this white paper:
- Possession of up to 7g of cannabis for personal use is completely legal.
- Possession between 7g and 28g for personal use will be subject to a fine before a drug tribunal.
- Personal possession of cannabis will no longer be a criminal offence, and anyone caught with such amounts will not be interrogated by the police.
- Individuals can grow up to four cannabis plants for personal use at home, provided the plants are private and cannot be seen from outside their homes.
- Persons with a criminal record for simple cannabis possession will have their record wiped clean.
- Cannabis consumption will be forbidden in public areas, against a fine of €233.
- The government is interested in creating a legal way in which users can buy cannabis buds and seeds.
A Direct Message on 420
Following the recent reform, on April 20th, the unofficial international day of cannabis users’ rights, Labour MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms, Rosianne Cutajar released a video message saying that although recreational use of the marijuana plant is not yet ‘legal’, the government has its mind set to be more sensitive to users.
Cutajar claims that a new study shows that over 40,000 individuals in Malta have used cannabis. This is an impressive number which shows how widespread the use of marijuana is around the Maltese islands.
Recently appointed in her role, Rosianne Cutajar claims that she has worked on proposals for a legislative framework that will strive to overcome the stigma that marijuana users have received in the past. She also gives mention to powerful leaders and athletes such as Barack Obama and Michael Phelps, who has famously used cannabis and claim that making use of this plant recreationally is nothing to be ashamed of.
Producing and Exporting Cannabis from Malta to Europe
More recently in May 2021, a Canadian medical marijuana and wellness company has been given the free light to begin exporting cannabis across Europe.
Becoming only the third company to achieve the sought-after gold standard, Materia has been awarded its European Union Good Manufacturing Practices certification from the Malta Medicines Authority.
The company now has the right to export marijuana into large markets, with a particular interest in Germany as the main-focus country. Germany is one of the largest markets when compared to other European countries.
CEO of Materia, Deepak Anand claims that ‘Becoming EU GMP certified in Malta represents our most significant milestone since we embarked on this project over two years ago. We are excited to turn the engine on and showcase the full potential of a Malta-based cannabis processor to the industry, especially global partners seeking access to the European market’.
Anand confirms that marijuana plants will not be grown on the island but simply manufactures and packaged here after its importation from abroad. However, the company is highly interested in Malta’s medical market and it is cautiously optimistic about the progress that Malta is making for such a small country in the Mediterranean.
Currently, Materia has a facility based in the Ħal-Far industrial estate.
Where Cannabis is Legal
The majority of European countries have legalised medical marijuana and a growing number of countries have decriminalised possession of small amounts of cannabis. This means that, slowly but surely, criminal penalties will become a thing of the past when it comes to marijuana.
Cannabis laws in Malta may be on the cusp of changing with the proposed introduction of a legal cannabis framework by 2022. George Vella, leader of the Maltese government, has stated his support for incorporating cannabis into the nation’s drug policies. At present, recreational use is prohibited and punishable by law, though there are allowances for medicinal use as well as home cultivation rights granted to vaccine-using patients under certain conditions. The Maltese Cannabis Association and other organisations are actively campaigning to ensure that any eventual legislation takes into account medical necessity and sensible legalisation options. As such, it remains to be seen how Malta will tackle its cannabis laws in 2022.
However, cannabis rules and regulations differ from country to country.
As months roll by, more information will be made available as to the marijuana reform. We intend on giving you all that you need to know about the legalisation of cannabis.
Malta is a step closer to legalising cannabis for recreational use. In this new reform, people will be allowed to cultivate up to four marijuana plants, specifically for their own exclusive and recreational use. The plants cannot be grown in the public eye and they cannot be sold to third parties.
It is also no longer a criminal act if persons are found in possession of marijuana of up to 7g. Fines will be issued if a user is found carrying an amount over 7g but no criminal charges will take place. In fact, marijuana-related crimes will be removed from criminal records.