Malta is officially the first European country to legalize adult-use cannabis


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

On Tuesday, December 14, Malta made history by becoming the first European country to legally permit recreational cannabis cultivation and consumption.

Back in 2018, the Mediterranean country legalized cannabis production, but only on the grounds that the plant is used specifically for research and medicinal purposes.

Approved with a vote of 36-27 by members of Malta’s parliament, the cannabis reform measure is acknowledged as part of a worldwide push to decriminalize the green plant.

Equality Minister Owen Bonnici described the move as “historic” and told reporters that it could potentially safeguard cannabis consumers from criminal justice system interference. 

“[Malta’s adult-use cannabis law will] curb drug trafficking by making sure that users now have a safe and regularized way from where they can obtain cannabis,” he said.

It should be noted that recreational cannabis legalization in Malta was voted against by the Nationalist Party.

About Malta’s adult-use cannabis law

Following the passing of Malta’s adult-use cannabis law, adults aged 21 and older can legally possess up to seven grams of weed.  The law also allows for home cultivation to the amount of four plants. However, adults cannot smoke weed around children this is an illegal offense.

Under the terms of Malta’s adult-use cannabis law, inhabitants of the island South of Sicily must abide by the following rules:

  • Public smoking should be avoided and anyone caught doing so will be charged €235 (USD$265)
  • Individuals caught smoking cannabis around individuals aged 18 or younger must be prepared to pay a maximum fine of €500 (USD$564)
  • A fine of up to €100 (USD$113) must be paid by anyone who is caught carrying in excess of seven grams but less than 28g of adult-use cannabis in Malta.
  • Minors found in possession of cannabis will be provided with support in the form of treatment or a care plan; as opposed to being arrested or charged with a criminal offense.
  • Associations will be tasked with distributing cannabis cultivation seeds and the drug itself, which will essentially ensure proper regulation. (The Maltese people can only join one association.)

Meanwhile, Equality Minister Owen Bonnici has fought back against remarks claiming that the government is advocating for drug abuse.

“We are creating a system that gives people access to cannabis without being in touch with criminality and ensuring they obtain a clean product,” Bonnici told Malta Today.

Malta is paving the way for a sweeping cannabis legalization trend across Europe

Considering that it is the smallest member state of the EU, Malta is definitely making an impression with its bold move to legalize recreational cannabis. It’s highly probable that Malta’s adult-use law will stimulate movement in the avenue of adult-use cannabis regulations across the rest of Europe.

Reform efforts are also being inspired by the UN’s reclassification of cannabis last year. Plans to form a legally-regulated market have also been rolled out by governments in European countries like Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Technically, the plant remains illegal in The Netherlands, despite the fact that the capital City of Amsterdam has earned worldwide fame for its cannabis coffee shop scene. Nonetheless, it is widely tolerated. Conversely, a cannabis reform referendum will be held in Italy next year.