Malta, an island-state located in the Mediterranean Sea, has become the first nation in the European Union to legalize the personal use and growing of marijuana. This move by Malta comes after the United Nations reclassified marijuana to recognize its therapeutic use in 2020.
Adults in the country will be allowed to grow a maximum of four plants in their homes and be in possession of up to seven grams of marijuana. However, smoking the herb in front of children or smoking it in public remains illegal.
The parliament of Malta voted in favor of the measure to legalize earlier this week, approving the reform with a vote of 36 to 27. Owen Bonnici, the country’s equality minister, stated that the move would prevent small-time users of marijuana from being arrested and limit drug trafficking by ensuring that users had a regularized and safe way to obtain marijuana.
The Nationalist Party, the country’s opposition party, voted against the reform. Bernard Grech, the opposition party’s leader, had warned that the reform would strengthen the illicit drug market and allow organized crime to take advantage.
Despite its approval in parliament, opponents are calling for President George Vella to not sign the reform into law. Signing the measure into law is the final stage, which requires the president’s approval.
Under the new law, any individual found in possession of more than 7 grams but less than 28 grams of cannabis could receive a fine of up to €100, which is equal to $112. Those caught smoking marijuana in front of any person below 18 will be fined €500 ($659) while those caught smoking in public will be fined €235 ($310).
Additionally, associations that will oversee the distribution of seeds to grow marijuana or the drug will be established. Legislators believe that this will regulate how much an individual can purchase, as every individual will be allowed to be a member of only a single association.
Minors found in possession of marijuana will, instead of facing criminal charges or arrest, be recommended with a treatment of care plan.
The first country to legalize marijuana for personal use globally was Uruguay, which legalized the subtance in 2013, with Canada following suit in 2018. Several other countries, including Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany, recently announced their plans to set up legally regulated markets.
Nations such as the Netherlands tolerate the use of marijuana in its famous marijuana cafes, despite the plant being illegal in the country. In the United States, some states have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medical use. However, the herb is still federally illegal.
For companies such as BevCanna Enterprises Inc. (CSE: BEV) (OTCQB: BVNNF) (FSE: 7BC) that have their eye on a large market spanning different jurisdictions, Malta’s decision to end cannabis prohibition can be seen as a watershed moment since several other countries in the EU are likely to follow suit.
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