With the approval of the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis Act (the “Act“), legal cannabis in Malta has arrived. The Mediterranean island nation is the first in the European Union to legalize adult-use cannabis. Medical cannabis has been legal in Malta since 2018.
1. What Is Now Legal?
The Act permits the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants. It also allows possession of not more than 50 grams of dried cannabis for personal use, by a person at their residence. Cultivation shall not occur in a space visible to the public.
In public, possession of up to seven grams is not considered an offense, provided it is “reasonably deemed” that the cannabis is for personal use.
In addition, the Act allows the establishment of cannabis clubs. These venues may dispense up to seven grams of cannabis per day to a single member (and up to 50 grams in a calendar month).
2. Are There Still Any Restrictions?
Cannabis is now legal in Malta, but this is subject to certain important limitations. The use of cannabis in public (other than for medical purposes), is punishable by a €235 (~$265) fine.
The possession of any amount of cannabis by a person under 18 is also illegal. Whether in public or not, using cannabis in the presence of persons under 18 is punishable by a fine of between €300 and €500 (~$338-$563).
3. Who Will Regulate Cannabis in Malta?
The Act establishes the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis (the “Authority”), which, among other duties, is tasked with acting as the cannabis regulator.
4. With Legal Cannabis in Malta, What’s Next?
Parliament’s historic vote allowed Malta to edge out Luxembourg, but it is expected that the latter will soon become the second European country to legalize cannabis. With Germany, the most populous country in the EU, poised to legalize adult-use cannabis soon as well, we are likely witnessing a breaking point.
It is reasonable to expect that, in ten years’ time, Western European countries without legal cannabis will be the exception.