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Law Malta


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In EU first, Malta approves adult-use cannabis home cultivation – but not retail sales​

By Matt Lamers, International Editor
December 14, 2021
Image of Valletta, Malta

Maltese lawmakers approved a landmark bill that decriminalizes some quantities of recreational cannabis, regulates home cultivation and permits nonprofit cannabis clubs in the European Union country.
The island nation’s president, George Vella, is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.
The new law will make Malta the first European Union (EU) country to legalize adult-use cannabis for personal use.
But the measure stops short of regulating the sale of recreational cannabis to consumers for profit, meaning those transactions, where they occur, will remain in the underground market and out of reach for legal businesses – and out of sight for regulators.
Instead, nonprofit cannabis clubs will be allowed, paving the way for cultivation and possession for distribution among members – provided the organizations are capped at 500 people and follow regulatory guidelines.
Cultivation of up to four plants per household will also be permitted, and up to 50 grams of dried cannabis will be allowed to be stored at home for personal use.
No THC limit has been established.
European markets
Some European countries are taking steps to end cannabis prohibition to various degrees, but so far none have gone so far as to established meaningful regulated markets for the drug.
Luxembourg recently backpedaled on a previous commitment to create a fully regulated recreational marijuana market modelled after Canada’s.
The country now plans to allow home cultivation of up to four plants for personal use. Retail will not be permitted.
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The new German government has agreed to regulate the distribution and sale of recreational cannabis.
However, details on the pending German initiative are few and far between.
Experts warn executives not to overestimate the pace of legal and regulatory development in Europe.
Since businesses can operate only within the boundaries of a jurisdiction’s regulations and laws, a prudent approach is needed, they say.
Some European countries have launched, or are preparing to start, medical pilot programs. Those often come with limited potential for commercialization.
No commercial objectives
Malta’s law has no commercial objectives.
Instead, it aims to:
  • Establish the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis to regulate “cannabis clubs” and promote educational campaigns on the responsible use of cannabis.
  • Achieve “limited decriminalization” of certain cannabis-related activities “to allow for a balance between individual freedom in the limited and responsible personal use of cannabis.”
The law also effectively legalizes hemp.
Personal possession of cannabis will be capped at 7 grams in public.
“What is being done aims at the limited decriminalization of the responsible use of cannabis and the creation of regulated sources from where cannabis and its seeds can be acquired,” according to a government document that outlines the scope of the law.
The law establishes various fines.
Anyone caught with 7-28 grams could be fined from 50 euros ($56) to 100 euros.
Consuming adult-use cannabis in public would result in a fine of 235 euros.
Consumption in the presence of anyone younger than 18 could result in a fine of 300 euros to 500 euros, whether the consumption happened in public or private.
Clubs will be required to obtain a permit from the cannabis regulator before commencing operations. The clubs will be allowed to distribute no more than 20 unsterilized seeds per month to members in sealed packets.
The law contains a provision allowing anyone with a criminal record to apply to have it expunged.

Malta Officially Legalizes Marijuana With President’s Signature, Becoming First In Europe To End Cannabis Prohibition

Just days after Malta’s Parliament approved a bill to legalize marijuana, President George Vella signed the legislation into law on Saturday.

This makes Malta the first European country to enact the reform.

Under the legislation sponsored by MP Owen Bonnici, adults 18 and older will be allowed to possess up to seven grams of cannabis and cultivate as many as four plants for personal use. Up to 50 grams of homegrown marijuana can be stored at home.

While there won’t be a commercial market per se, non-profit cooperatives will be able to cultivate marijuana and distribute it to members.

Possession of more than seven grams but less than 28 grams by an adult will be punishable by a €50 to €100 fine without the threat of jail time or a criminal record. Minors who are found in possession of cannabis will be referred to a commission for justice for a “care plan,” rather than face arrest.

Cannabis clubs that are authorized under the law can have as many as 500 members and will be limited to distributing seven grams per day to each member, with a maximum of 50 grams per month. They can also distribute up to 20 cannabis seeds per member each month.

“The entry into force of this robust legislative framework underlines this government’s willingness to make bold decisions by implementing wise and unprecedented reforms in order to bring about change and social justice in the best interests of society as a whole,” Bonnici said in a press release.

In a speech to lawmakers on Friday, Vella reacted to opposition party calls for him to block the legislation.

“To date, the president does not have the power to ignore a law that was passed democratically by Parliament, whether he agrees with it or not, unless he has such a serious moral objection that he prefers to pack up and go home rather than sign that law”, he said.

“The head of state cannot capriciously create a constitutional crisis and cause instability,” he added. “There is nothing in our Constitution that gives the president the final say on a law, otherwise we will create a dictator who decides what becomes law at a whim.”

Tuesday’s vote to approve the bill was 36-27.

The legislation says its purpose is aimed at “allowing for a balance between individual freedom in the limited and responsible personal use of cannabis and other social requirements.”

A government notice on the new law’s enactment says that Bonnici, who serves as the country’s minister for equality, research and innovation, will be responsible for implementing it.

Malta, the smallest member nation of the European Union, has beaten out several other countries in the region where legalization could also soon be enacted.

The leaders of Germany’s new coalition government parties announced late last month that they have a formal agreement to legalize cannabis and promote broader drug policy harm reduction measures when they take power.

In neighboring Luxembourg, the ministers of justice and homeland security unveiled a legalization proposal in October. It will still require a vote in the Parliament but is expected to pass. For now, the country is focusing on legalization within a home setting. Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal in early 2022, and the ruling parties are friendly to the reform.

Meanwhile, Italian voters may get a chance this spring to vote on a referendum to legalize personal possession and home cultivation of cannabis as well as psilocybin mushrooms.

Over in the U.S., there are several competing legalization bills moving through Congress. A reform bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee in September. Another is being finalized by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and colleagues. And Republican lawmakers also introduced a legalization bill last month.

A draft bill to legalize and regulate marijuana sales in Mexico is being circulated among senators, with top lawmakers saying the intent is to vote soon.

Canada and Uruguay have already legalized recreational cannabis.

What Is Next for Malta, the First EU Country To Legalize Cannabis?

Plant Medicine Week is dedicated to the recognition and advancement of the healing powers of cannabis and psychedelics—the event will take place in Valletta, Malta from April 5-8.

Three months after Malta became the first country in the EU to federally legalize recreational cannabis use and remove all penalties for possession, Medcann World Forum places the spotlight on Malta again, its medical cannabis legislation and business-friendly environment, and highlights why the country is quickly becoming the leader in the European medical cannabis field through Plant Medicine Week.

Taking place from April 5-8, 2022 the event will recognize and advance plant medicine’s potential to change society’s approach to mental and physical health.

Local businesses and governments are opening doors to international regulatory experts and global business leaders in medical cannabis and psychedelics.

The multi-faceted event will focus on six main pillars: medical, legislation, business, regulatory, education, and research.

The event will bring together some of the most distinguished industry experts and will be chaired by Materia’s Founder, Deepak Anand. Guest speakers will include:

Kurt Farrugia, CEO of Malta Enterprise who will be providing an introduction to Malta and its government.

Sita Schubert, Founder and General Secretary of EUMCA. Schubert will be explaining the progress made by EUMCA so far and the plans for the future.

Tristan Gervais, Head of Chrystal Capital Advisory. Tristan will be exploring the European and international cannabis markets.

Cannabis R&D Panel​

This fascinating panel will be hosted by Dr. Orna Dreazen, Vice Chairman of the Israeli public drug company, Nextage Therapeutics. Dr. Dreazen is also the founder and CEO of Nextage’s parent company, Nextar Chempharma. Dr. Dreazen’s credentials include a Ph.D in Biochemistry gained from the Weizmann Institute of Science and postdoctoral studies at the University of California in Los Angeles. Dr. Dreazen is considered to be a leader in the field of biochemistry.

Tuesday, April 5

  • Malta – Why Malta? The incentives and schemes available to attract foreign investment to our island. This session is designed to educate attendees about this stunning country and everything that it has to offer.
  • European Legislation – What is cannabis and what are countries’ obligations to control it? What is the opposition to cannabis? The panel examines the links and disparities between the content of the laws and their guidelines on the one hand and the actual implementation of the laws on the other. Have changes in law affected cannabis use and how much public support for legal change exists?
  • Entry into Germany – Who’s who and what are the barriers to entry?
  • Investment and Raising Finance – What do investors look for when analyzing cannabis investment opportunities?
Wednesday, April 6

  • Regulatory – How are the current regulatory regimes for medical cannabis, capital raising, and investment options for enterprises and investors operating in this sector?
  • R&D – What innovative cannabinoid research projects across several species are generating the evidence needed to improve healthcare?
  • Medical – Evaluation and development of novel cannabinoid therapies and latest clinical outcomes-based research and the use of Real World Evidence (RWE) in cannabinoid drug development.
  • Analysis of Cannabis – Latest technological advances in Cannabis testing and analysis.
  • Education – How to remove the lack of education among healthcare professionals?
Through a mix of case-studies, panels, Q&A sessions, and exhibitions, attendees will gain a diverse and inspiring perspective of the latest advances from the medical cannabis and psychedelics industries. Expert guest speakers will be presenting throughout the day and will be exploring what can often be a complex and emotive topic.

The local authorities fully support this sector and would like to open up into more segments, such as R&D and make Malta a centre of excellence in this regard.

At this prestigious event, attendees will celebrate this historic moment for Malta and what it means for the country’s economy and growth. While Malta is the first EU country to legalize cannabis, it was preceded by a number of countries and cities including Amsterdam, Canada, and the USA (in some states).

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