Parliament approves cannabis regulation reforms, allowing cultivation, possession up to 7g

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 December, 2021 at 9:36 am by Andre Camilleri

Parliament has approved the cannabis reform bill, which will allow the cultivation of cannabis plants and possession of up to 7 grammes of the substance.

The PN MPs voted against the bill.

Speaking about the Bill, Reforms Minister Owen Bonnici said: “We believe that the legislative package we are passing through parliament is a robust and effective harm reduction method with regards to personal cannabis use. It has three main aims: firstly to stop treating as criminals people who are not criminals, secondly to provide a safe and regularised route through which cannabis can be obtained under strict controls and conditions under the headship of a newly-formed regulatory Authority and thirdly to protect minors and society at large.”

While it will no longer be an offence for people over the age of 18 to be in possession of 7 grammes of cannabis for personal use, those under the age of 18 would be summoned to appear before a Commissioner for Justice who may propose a care plan or treatment.

Consuming cannabis in public will remain against the rules, and those in breach will be subject to a €235 penalty. The consumption of cannabis in the presence of anyone under the age of 18, be it in a public or private place, will result in a penalty between €300 and €500.

The new rules mean that up to 4 cannabis plants can be cultivated in a private residence and up to 50 grammes of dried cannabis could be stored, but such plants must not be visible to the public.

Non-profit clubs will be able to be set up. These clubs would be allowed to distribute cannabis and cannabis plant seeds to their members. Such clubs can only have up to 500 members and must be situated 250m away from the perimeter of a school, a club or a youth centre.

The authority that will be set up will, among other things, act as a regulator. It will also submit proposals and recommendations to the Government concerning a national policy on the responsible use of cannabis and monitor the use of cannabis in Malta.

In 2015, Malta had decriminalised possession of small quantities of cannabis (up to 3.5 grammes). The use of medical cannabis products was also allowd as of a few years ago.

The latest reform has not been without controversy however. A number of organisations and experts have proposed amendments and changes to the bill, however these proposals were ignored.

The next step is for President George Vella to approve the Bill, and the Legal Notice enacting it will come after.

This move makes Malta the first European country to legalise the cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use, pipping Luxembourg to the post, the Guardian had reported. Asked about this, Minister Bonnici said: “Malta is the first in Europe to create a law to set up a regulatory authority to enforce cannabis regulations and controls, the first in Europe to provide a safe and regularised route to obtain cannabis for personal use and the first to decriminalise cultivation and possession in Europe.”

Germany recently announced a move to establish a legally regulated market, following announcements from the governments of Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

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