On Tuesday, December 14th, 2021, Malta became the first country in the European Union to legalize the adult use of cannabis. The bill sponsored by Minister Owen Bonnici would decriminalize adult cannabis users, establish a regulatory system, and protect minors and society in general.
In this sense, the new law is awaiting the President of Malta, George Vella’s signature. The regulatory framework already has the approval of the majority of parliament and the support of Prime Minister Robert Abela. The Prime Minister stated that drug trafficking remains illegal, “we are legislating to address a problem, with an approach to reduce harm by regulating the sector so that people do not need to resort to the black market,” said Abela.
Also, the new law 241 establishes “the limited decriminalization of certain cannabis-related activities to allow a balance between individual freedom in the limited and responsible personal use of cannabis and other social requirements.” Thus, anyone over 18 years old may possess up to seven grams of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants. Those growing the plant for personal consumption may store up to 50 grams of dried cannabis.
However, the consumption of cannabis in public or the presence of minors will continue to be illegal. Persons possessing between seven and 28 grams of cannabis will have to pay up to 100 euros in fines. The amount will increase to 235 euros if they consume in public and, if they do so in front of children, the penalties will range from 300 to 500 euros. The new law allows the creation of non-profit clubs with permission to distribute cannabis and seeds of the plant among their members.
Malta has been working to position itself as the European leader in the production of medical cannabis since approving a law in 2018. Previously, in 2015, a law was passed decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis. With this year’s new law, Malta became the first country to establish a regulatory framework for the recreational use of cannabis within the European Union.