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LEGAL NOTICES MALTA

Malta: An Act to establish the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis and to amend various laws relating to certain cannabis activities

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Cannabis_reform.jpgAuthority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis Act, 2021
Government Gazette of Malta No. 20,753 – 18.12.2021

ACT No. LXVI of 2021

1. What is the reform all about?

The Government, following the launch of a white paper and months of consultation, has put forward a law that will change the way we regulate cannabis in Malta.

2. What is the reform changing?

Many things, including what cannabis is, how much cannabis is allowed as one’s possession, the growth of plants in homes, and how cannabis can be obtained in a safe and regularised manner without the need to resort to illegal traffickers and criminals.

3. What does the change in definition of cannabis mean?

Prior to the reform, the law still referred to "Indian Hemp" - an old term that does not give a detailed definition of cannabis. The reform is specifying to a great detail which parts of the plant are to be considered as cannabis, and excludes cannabis and cannabis products that contain less than 0.2 per cent THC, in line with the rulings of the European Court of Justice.

4. What does "cannabis possesion" mean?

By possession, we understand the amount of cannabis one is carrying on his/her person. Previously, possession of up to 3.5 grams led to proceedings before a Commissioner of Justice and a fine. With this reform, unless there is a suspicion of trafficking:

  • Possession of up to seven grams does not give rise to any proceedings, arrests, or fines
  • Possession of between 7 grams and 28 grams does not lead to arrest, but leads to proceedings before the Commissioner of Justice, and a fine of between 50 and 100

This will reduce the number of individuals who end up in the criminal justice system and imprisoned.

5. But if cannabis is found on me, can I be arrested?

No - unless the police have a reasonable suspicion of drug trafficking.

6. And will they confiscate the cannabis?

If it weighs less than 7 grams, they do not.

7. Does this apply to everyone?

This change applies to anyone 18 years of age or older. If minors are found to be in possession of cannabis, they are brought before the Commissioner of Justice, to see if any treatment is needed to keep them away from drugs and protect them.

8. So If I am an adult I can smoke cannabis wherever I want?

No. The Consumption of cannabis in public still leads to a fine of 235 euro. If cannabis is consumed in the presence of minors, that fine will be increased to between 300 and 500 euro, and this is done in order to safeguard and protect minors.

9. I have been convicted in the past of a crime related to the simple possession of cannabis. What can I do?

A new system has been created where if one has been convicted of a crime that is now decriminalised or depenalised, such as the simple possession of less than 28 grams, or the growth of up to four plants, one can send a simple request in writing for that offence to be removed from the conduct certificate.

10. Can I grow cannabis at home now?

Yes - each residence can grow up to a maximum of four plants, in a place that is not visible from other places, such as from the street. One can only do this at the residence which is marked on the respective ID card, and the number of people staying there is irrelevant. The maximum number of plants allowed will always remain that of four.

11. So can I have as much cannabis as I want at home?

No. You can have up to 4 plants, and you can have up to 50 grams of dried cannabis. By dried cannabis we mean cannabis that has been removed from the plant.

12. And how will children be protected if plants are grown at home?

The reform stipulates that smoking may not be allowed in the presence of children and that cannabis-related items may not be allowed in the vicinity of children. Heavy fines have been set for those who break these rules.

13. I don't have a place where to grow cannabis, nor have time to care for the plant, where can I get cannabis from?

Non-profit Associations will be allowed to grow cannabis for their members. One has to be a member of such an association by paying a fee. Nembers can take up to 50 grams of cannabis per month. The association may also provide seeds.

14. I would like to start an assiociation - what do I have to do?

Each association must be run solely by individuals, not companies, and these must work as non-profit associations. Once the association has been set up, it must be registered with the new Authority which will be regulating the field of non-medical cannabis. Associations have to comply with all applicable laws and regulations at all times.

15. The association will have an outlet to distribute cannabis to members - can I open such an outlet wherever I want?

No. The location of such an outlet may not be near a school, club, or youth centre. Nor can the outlets have any kind of advertising that somehow show that the site is a cannabis growing association. Also, those outlets cannot cause any nuisance to the respective neighbourhoods.

16. Who will see to it that this new law is observed?

The reform is setting up a new Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis. This new authority will be the regulator of the sector.

17. Above all, why is the reform taking place?

The Government believes that an individual should make the best choices for his or her well-being, opting for such activities as sports or culture or volunteering. However, if an adult chooses to make use of cannabis he or she should have a regular and safe route from where to obtain the substance and must be treated with dignity. The Government also believes that the criminal justice system is not the way to discourage cannabis use; instead, we will be focusing more on education as a primary method of prevention.

With this reform, the Government is also aiming to considerably reduce the illegal trafficking of cannabis, and the contact of responsible adults with traffickers and other criminals.

 

From The Sunday Times of Malta 26/12/2021

 

 

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