Since December 18 2021, Malta has become the first country in the European Union (EU) to legalize homegrown cannabis and sales through non-profit clubs. Excellent news of course which could prove to be the start to a green future in the EU. All the more reasons to delve into the details for a new iteration of Suzy’s Cannabis World Blog.
Malta is the smallest country in the EU by both population and geographical area, yet has become the first country to officially legalise homegrown cannabis. You would think other countries like the Netherlands and Spain were first, but technically no European country has put into law what the Maltese have done.
Cultivation at home of cannabis allowed up to four plants per household and sales through non-profit clubs in Malta
The law decriminalized possession of up to 7 grams of cannabis for personal use. People caught with more than 7 grams, but less than 28 grams, will lead to proceedings before the Commissioner of Justice. Using cannabis in public, unless allowed for medical purposes, is illegal and the person can be fined €235. Likewise, using cannabis in front of minors, whether in public or private, is illegal and carries a fine of €300-500.
The law also allows the cultivation at home of up to four cannabis plants per household. When growing, it is allowed to keep a maximum of 50 grams of dried cannabis in a home. If the dried cannabis exceeds 50 grams, the police will confiscate it and take the necessary legal action. Unharvested cannabis will not be taken if it falls within the four-plant limit.
People who are unable or not willing to grow their own cannabis, will soon also be able to purchase their weed from regulated non-profit clubs. Clubs where you can't sit and smoke though, unlike the clubs you might know from a visit to Spain.
Under the new law, it is allowed to form clubs for the purpose of growing cannabis to divide the members. These organizations must be non-profit organizations and no one under the age of 18 is allowed to join or attend. No one may be a member of more than one organization.
Per member, a maximum of 7 grams per day may be disturbed with a maximum of 50 grams per month. The organization will also be able to distribute up to 20 cannabis seeds to each member each month. The organization is not allowed to have more than 500 grams of dried cannabis on the premises at any time.
Tourists are not welcome to buy legal weed in the clubs
But before you book your ticket for a cannabis holiday to Malta, we have to mention the clubs will not be accessible for tourists the psychotherapist Mariella Dimech, the chair of the new cannabis authority, explained earlier this month to the Times of Malta.
She said: "We also need to inform the public what the law says. Some people are imagining coffee shops cropping up everywhere selling weed and tourists coming over to the island to smoke drugs. They’re imagining Malta becoming another Amsterdam. None of that is in the law. The law doesn’t allow a tourist to buy weed. It doesn’t allow coffee shops.”
Commenting on her remarks, Andrew Bonello, President of the ReLeaf Malta NGO, said: “Ms. Dimech is correct in stating that there will be no coffee shops, in fact with the new law, the only place to legally consume cannabis is in your private residence. However nowhere does it say that tourists will be prohibited from purchasing cannabis legally.”
He continued: “The Maltese law has been designed to ensure that local consumers are no longer abused by the illicit market and potential corporate take over. Therefore the system foresees a closed membership system whereby only local residents may apply. This will undoubtedly give the illicit market a new niche and expose tourists to unnecessary harms (being arrested, sold synthetics). Instead, the law could allow the possibility for tourists to apply beforehand and ensure they are provided with a good quality product, whilst tasting local produce, instead of ill stored and smuggled cannabis from Sicily, Holland, or Spain. We understand the legislators’ fears, however, are confident that through a flexible approach, Malta can continue to push for a human rights-based approach to cannabis policy, also for visiting tourists.”
While cannabis clubs to open in 2022, cultivation at home can start straightaway
There have yet to open any clubs as of the writing of this article. But Ms. Dimech did disclose in a different interview their intentions to start opening clubs already this year: “The biggest question is the club’s timeline – I think people are truly excited to both set them up as well as join them. It will happen in 2022 – it has to happen in 2022. Which month, I cannot say yet, but that’s what we are aiming for.”
Until then, and long after, Maltese are able to order their cannabis seeds from seedbanks like Suzy Seeds to start growing themselves so they do not have to wait for the clubs to open. We have already successfully shipped seeds to new customers in Malta and hope to serve many new ones in the near future as well.
And the next country to follow suit? Possible Luxemburg as we explained in our previous blogpost about Germany and other European countries.