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The vote was a “controversial” one, according to the Times of Malta, but since the government dismissed recommendations by the Nationalist Party (and others), the bill will go forth without any major amendments. The bill is expected to legalize cannabis for personal use and allow individuals to possess up to seven grams.
The Nationalist Party was opposed, and so were various NGOs and the Secretariat for Catholic Education. These groups were arguing for stricter reform that would cap the percentage of THC in cannabis products and lower the limit of adult possession, which would be below seven grams.
Malta began talking about cannabis reform back in 2017, and the reforms were designed to align with their manifesto four years ago. Now, the bill will be considered for a third and final vote, and positive vote results could mean the cannabis reform law will go into effect before 2022.
Reforms Minister Owen Bonnici told the Times of Malta that the country is not encouraging anyone to begin smoking cannabis, but the new bill would help Maltese people make better decisions. He added that people could find pleasure in sports, culture, and volunteering, “but if a person makes the decision to take cannabis, then we have to treat them like adults and provide a safe way to obtain it.
In addition to the new laws stated above, the bill was carefully crafted as a way to protect the public. It is still illegal to consume cannabis in public places unless a physician authorizes the individual to use medical cannabis. Additionally, personal cultivation is allowed, but individuals must keep plants out of sight from the streets and the public.
It’s also permitted to have up to 50 grams in one’s household only if the cannabis was grown in the same private residence. Even better, Malta is making a progressive move, one that the United States has been waiting for. Surprisingly, MPs and NGOs opposed the new law, but they praised the expungement of criminal records for those found guilty of non-violent cannabis crimes.
While Germany continues to finalize their recreational cannabis laws, and Luxembourg is happily settled with their new laws (similar to Malta’s forthcoming reforms), this could make Malta another trailblazing European country to accept and legalize cannabis.
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