By / January 11, 2022

Malta legalizes cannabis for recreational use, a first in the EU

The Mediterranean island decided in December to allow the cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis at home and its recreational use in the private sphere. It is the first country in the European Union to go this far. In other Member States, it is mostly merely a tolerance.

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A New Haven for Cannabis In Malta?

Not quite…

The small Mediterranean island of Malta legalized the recreational use of cannabis on Tuesday 14 December. This is a first in the European Union (EU). Users aged 18 and over will be able to possess a maximum of 7 grams of the drug and grow four plants. For possession of between 7 and 28 grams, however, the user is liable to a fine of €100. The use of cannabis in public remains prohibited, punishable by a fine of €235, and in front of minors, the penalty can reach between €300 and €500.

The reform provides for the creation of non-profit associations allowing the production and sale of cannabis to its members. The implementation and enforcement of these provisions will be supervised by a new public body, the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis.

Malta’s PM wants to Save parents from cannabis court trauma

Robert Abela, Malta’s Labour Prime Minister, had asked his party’s MPs to vote for the new law. He said he wanted to spare parents the “trauma” of seeing their children in court for smoking a joint. “Drug trafficking will remain illegal,” he said.

The Nationalist Party, however, opposed the bill, saying the new legislation would “normalize and increase drug use” in the country.

Traditionally conservative, the small island had already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2015. In 2018, a legal framework was adopted to make Malta a hub for the production of medical cannabis. Which is becoming increasingly lucrative as legalization proceeds around the world.

Where do other EU countries stand?

Malta is the first Member State to go so far in legalizing cannabis. Many countries have decriminalised the use and possession of marijuana for private use, but this is only tolerance.

Even Amsterdam is not so advanced. In the Netherlands, the use and resale of cannabis has been regulated since 1976, but not legalized. Marijuana can be bought in coffee shops, which have a special license. For possession, the tolerance is 5 grams. The law does not prohibit consumption, nor does it allow it, but tolerates it in private places. In public places, the regulations are stricter: no disturbance of public order, no consumption in the presence of minors.

In Spain, a 1992 law prohibited the consumption or possession of cannabis in public places. This allows for tolerance in private. Luxembourg announced in October 2021 a law for legalization, close to the Malta model, by the end of 2022.

Worldwide, Canada, Uruguay, Mexico and eleven US states have chosen to decriminalize recreational cannabis use.

( Photo by Richard T on Unsplash)

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