adult-use cannabis

Malta First In The E.U. To Legalize Cannabis

Malta First In The E.U. To Legalize Cannabis

With a 36 to 27 Parliament vote on Tuesday, Malta became the first European Union nation to legalize adult-use cannabis. Adults can now legally cultivate up to four plants, possess up to seven grams, and have no more than 50 grams of cured cannabis at home. Smoking marijuana in front of children or in public is still illegal.

Individuals possessing between seven and 28 grams will be fined up to 100 euros. Smoking cannabis in public would yield a 235 euro fine. Consuming marijuana in front of anyone younger than 18, whether it be from hemp wraps or hand pipes, would merit up to a 500 euro fine.

To regulate the recreational use of marijuana, the Maltese government has established the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis.

Consumers can soon buy marijuana at outlets situated more than 250 meters from schools or youth centers and managed by nonprofit groups. Those nonprofits will be allowed to grow cannabis and sell it to members who will be entitled to buy up to seven grams a day and up to a maximum of 50 grams a month.

Supporters expect the new legislation will not only spare cannabis consumers from criminal penalties but also curb drug trafficking and ensure consumers have a safe and regulated way to obtain marijuana. And, instead of arrest or criminal charges, minors caught with cannabis will be recommended to a care or treatment plan.

The government will establish separate associations to distribute cannabis and cannabis seeds. Individuals can only be part of one association, which will help regulate how much someone buys.

In October, Bernard Grech, leader of Malta’s opposition Nationalist Party, told the Times of Malta that the law would “only lead to the strengthening of the illegal market, with organized crime taking advantage.” Grech, who ironically originally supported legalization, now urges Malta President Vella not to sign it into law.

But Andrew Bonello, President of the Releaf group, an advocate for the new legislation, said that the new law would ensure better quality marijuana and reduce criminal involvement in the drug trade.

Marica Cassar, a spokeswoman for the Catholic charity Caritas in Malta, said the law would popularize and normalize marijuana, but not in a good way. This “mind-altering substance will cause a problem in our society.”

Other E.U. nations may follow closely behind Malta. In October, Luxembourg announced a similar plan, and Germany’s incoming coalition government indicated its plans to legalize cannabis and license dispensaries. Italy’s campaign groups gathered the necessary 500,000 signatures to vote on a cannabis referendum. 

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