The parliament of Malta will almost certainly legalize Cannabis this week. It would make the Mediterranean island country the first in the European Union to allow cultivation and possession of the herb, The Guardian reports.
The legalization vote will be Tuesday in parliament. That bill will then be signed by President George Vella. Malta will enact the new law by the weekend. Or at least, that’s the plan, according to Owen Bonnici, Malta’s minister for Equality, Research and Innovation.
Possession of up to seven grams of marijuana will be legal for those 18 and above. Adults can grow up to four Cannabis plants. Those plants, however, must be hidden from public view. Adults are permitted to store up to 50 grams of dried herb.
The law forbids public consumption of Cannabis, except for medical marijuana patients.
Reform Expected To Spread Across EU In 2022
Malta, the EU’s smallest member state, will probaby to be followed by other states across the EU in 2022, reports Baltic News Network.
Germany recently announced a move to establish a legally regulated Cannabis market. This followed announcements from the governments of Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Italy plans a referendum on legalization, whilst Canada, Mexico and 18 US states have already enacted similar legislation.
‘The Harsh Approach To Cannabis Was Disproportionate’
“I’m very glad that Malta will be the first country to put words in statute in a comprehensive manner with a regulatory authority,” Equality Minister Bonnici said to The Guardian.
“There is a growing awareness that the harsh approach to cannabis users was disproportionate, unjust, and causing a great deal of suffering to people who are living exemplary lives,” Bonnici said.
“Being arrested is a very, very, very ugly thing,” Bonnici said, reports Buzz. “There are perfectly nice people with good careers. They end up being arrested and brought to court sometimes for having 5 grams of cannabis on their person. We had to stop that.
“We also want to curb the illegal cannabis trade, and people in the criminal world who are enriching their pockets and are also sometimes selling synthetic cannabis; and that is not good,” he said. “We wanted to change things.”
Nationalists Love Cannabis Prohibition
Malta’s conservative opposition Nationalist Party was critical of the move, reports the Daily Mail. The Nationalists think Cannabis prohibition is just dandy.
Nationalist leader Bernard Grech warned in October: “The relaxation of the laws will only lead to the strengthening of the illegal market, with organized crime taking advantage,” according to The Times.
Bonnici said Malta’s approach, while seeking to avoid criminalizing any marijuana use, was also to ensure harm reduction.
The new law certainly has its weaknesses. If someone has 28 grams or more, they are fined 50 to 100 Euros. Those who are under 18 and have weed go before a “commission for justice.” Such minors will likely even be recommended a (yikes!) “care plan.”
In addition, those who use marijuana in front of a child could be fined between 300 and 500 Euros.
Besides allowing people to legally Cannabis in their homes, it will also become legal for nonprofit medical marijuana clubs to cultivate it for distribution among patients. Similar groups are also legal in Spain and the Netherlands.
But membership rolls in such patient groups are limited to 500. Patient groups can distribute only 7 grams a day to each patient. The law caps the amount at 50 grams per patient for each month, reports Buzz. Patient groups can store up to 500 grams of dried herb at one time.