Words: Eva O’Beirne
Malta is set to become the first EU country to legalise the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana.
Under the new legislation adults will be allowed have up to seven grams of weed and grow up to four plants at home for their personal use.
The law also allows for regulated non-profit associations of up to 500 people each to grow the drug for the exclusive use of its members.
Prime Minister of Malta, Robert Abela, spoke of the Labour party’s aims in his country: “We are legislating to address a problem and taking the harm reduction approach by regulating the sector so that people do not have to resort to the black market to purchase cannabis.”
“We are dissuading people from smoking cannabis, while not treating those who choose to do so as criminals. Drug trafficking will remain illegal.”
The law also softens penalties for those found with larger amounts of cannabis, with minors being referred to a tribunal instead of facing penalties. Adults will face a maximum 100 euro fine if caught with more than 7 grams of marijuana.
The news comes just weeks after Luxembourg and Germany announced similar proposals, while personal use and growing of cannabis is also tolerated (but not legal) in Spain and tolerated in the Netherlands.
In October, Luxembourg’s government unveiled proposals to allow each household to grow up to four cannabis plants, and to reduce fines for public consumption in cases involving fewer than 3 grams.
In November, the three parties that are likely to form Germany’s next coalition have agreed a deal to legalise the sale of weed for recreational purposes. A study from the University of Düsseldorf predicts that legalising cannabis in Germany for recreational use in could bring more than 4.7 billion euro in additional revenue every year.
In Spain, loose legal framework allows for the private production and consumption of cannabis by adults for their personal use, though its sale is still illegal.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands tolerates the sale of small amounts of weed in coffee shops and possession by individuals of no more than 5 grams or five plants.
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