Legalization of marijuana in Malta
The government of Malta was the first in the European Union to decide to legalize the cultivation and possession of marijuana for personal use. According to the bill, Maltese adults will be allowed to carry up to 7 grams of cannabis and grow up to four bushels of the plant at home. It remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public places and in the presence of minors.
Malta – the first EU country to legalise THC
On 14 December 2021, Maltese parliamentarians passed a bill to legalize marijuana in their country. President of Malta George Vella signed the law 4 days later – on 18 December – and as of that day, the law came into effect, making Malta the first European Union country to legalize marijuana.
The bill was supported by 36 deputies and opposed by 27. The opposition to legalization was mainly from the Maltese Nationalist Party. Party leader Bernard Grech, who was initially in favour of relaxing the law, ultimately stated that the bill would only lead to the “strengthening of the illegal market, which will benefit organized crime”.
Malta’s research and innovation minister said the government did not encourage drug use. However, he acknowledged that “a tough approach against cannabis users was disproportionate and unfair to people leading exemplary lives, as they fall into a trap of criminality when purchasing cannabis for personal use”.
Special associations with no more than 500 members are to be responsible for the distribution of marijuana in Malta. Any Maltese citizen can sign up for such an organization, receiving an amount of marijuana up to seven grams per day and fifty grams per month.
What does the legislation regarding the legalization of marijuana in Malta entail?
New cannabis laws allow for recreational use of marijuana. A Maltese of full legal age will be able to:
- carry up to seven grams of marijuana
- grow up to four bushels of cannabis for personal use.
It remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public places. However, possession of more than seven grams and less than 28 grams is punishable by a fine of 100 euros. Breaking the law on smoking cannabis in areas where it is prohibited will result in a fine of 235 euros. It is also forbidden to smoke marijuana in the presence of minors and there is a fine of 500 euros for that offence. Minors and juveniles who are caught in possession of marijuana are to be placed on a special care or treatment plan.
The Maltese legislative process has set in motion a series of changes that may be sweeping across other European countries. Malta was the first country in the EU to legalize marijuana, but Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland also want to allow the recreational use of marijuana. The change in attitude by many European governments follows the UN’s decision to remove cannabis from the list of medicines. Mainly medicines considered potentially addictive and dangerous that have little or no therapeutic application. Talks about legalizing marijuana are underway in many countries. According to experts, such a decision could bring a lot of profit to state budgets, while reducing black market activities. In Europe, a country where the laws on marijuana use are least stringent is the Netherlands. But, in fact, it’s more about a tolerance policy that is applied there. The possession, cultivation and distribution of cannabis still illegal there. The Netherlands, however, is also in talks to regulate marijuana production and perhaps legalize it.
Legalization of marijuana in Malta – summary
Malta legalized cannabis in December 2021, sparking a conversation among many European governments about easing cannabis laws. The right to possess cannabis in Malta if you’re an adult will continue to be regulated and only applies to certain amounts of the product.