Explainer: The Legalisation Of Cannabis In Malta

In December 2021 the Cannabis bill was approved in Maltese Parliament, making it the first EU country to allow small amounts of cannabis cultivation and possession for personal use. This being said, Malta has not yet fully legalised cannabis, however, it has furthered the decriminalisation process that began a few years ago. In 2015, the substance was depenalised for small amounts. Those persons caught with certain amounts of the substance had it confiscated and were made to appear before a tribunal where a fine could have been issued.

What the Bill Entails

In accordance with the new Responsible Use of Cannabis Act, those over 18 years of age can legally carry up to 7g of cannabis. Those caught carrying between 7g-28g will need to appear before a tribunal.

The above also applies to home cultivation of the plant, where each household is allowed to cultivate up to four plants, as long as these are not visible to the public. Those who do not wish to cultivate the plant can purchase the substance from cannabis associations.

Public smoking of cannabis will however remain illegal. Those caught can be fined up to €235, or €500 should a minor be present.

The Creation of Cannabis Associations in Malta

The new law has given rise to the possibility of cannabis associations to be formed in Malta. These clubs will need to be registered under an individual, as opposed to a company, and would need to run as non-profit organisations.

Clubs must be located a minimum of 250m away from schools or youth centres, cannot advertise their services, and cannot display cannabis visuals. Each club can have up to 500 members enrolled and each member is entitled to purchase up to a maximum of 7g cannabis per day and 50g per month. Members are also able to buy 20 seeds per month from the club. Memberships to the club are to remain anonymous.

To administer the cannabis sector a new regulatory authority, the Responsible Use of Cannabis Authority, has been established. An association will need to register with the Authority and file a report every three months.

Law Amendments Relating to the Bill

Following the President of Malta’s approval of the bill on the 18th of December 2021, Chapter 628 of the Laws of Malta was established- Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis Act. The Authority shall oversee and regulate the cultivation and possession of cannabis.

Chapter 628 also affected the following Maltese Laws:

  • The Conduct Certificates Ordinance – those persons who possess a criminal record for cannabis possession can now apply for the removal of these records.
  • The Dangerous Drugs Ordinance– a change in the definition of cannabis.
  • The Commissioners for Justice Act– legal possession of cannabis has increased from 3g to 7g.
  • The Drug Dependence Act– several amendments have been made including adults being able to possess 7g of cannabis; fines for smoking cannabis publicly and for smoking in the presence of minors; the allowance for each household to cultivate up to four plants; and the establishment of associations.

Medicinal and Research Licences

In accordance with the Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Research Purposes Act (Chapter 578 of the Laws of Malta), an organisation that wishes to cultivate cannabis for medicinal and research purposes must apply for a licence.

The below rights and obligations apply:

  • The licence holder may possess, cultivate, supply, export, sell, distribute, and destroy cannabis solely for medicinal/ research purposes.
  • The licencee must employ a Qualified Person (QP) and must acquire the required import/export certification.
  • For exportation purposes, the licencee must follow laws and permits of the destination country and must export the substance as a finished product.
  • An EU-GMP certificate must be awarded for intermediary products relating to cannabis and operations must follow the EU-GMP.

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