It may soon be time to increase the amount of cannabis one can carry in Malta without being arrested or charged with a crime.
In an interview on TVM’s show Insights, Prime Minister Robert Abela spoke about a series of hot topics, including prostitution, prison and cannabis.
When it comes to the plant, Abela made it clear that he believed it was time for a relaxation of laws controlling the substance that was legalised for medical use in Malta in 2018 and decriminalised for limited personal use in 2015.
Noting that legislation in 2015 – six years ago now – had allowed people to carry up to 3.5 grams of cannabis on their person without facing jail time, Abela asked whether it was time to increase that amount – or remove punishments altogether.
“What now remains is whether we should go for direction, whether we should increase the number of grams considered as being for personal use – meaning I consider this to be a measure about which we should not hesitate – and after that, whether we should eventually proceed towards the next step where you have issues of personal use, where one would remove it completely,” he told TVM.
His words were interpreted by sections of the media, as well as among Malta’s estimated 40,000 cannabis users, as a clear nod towards being open towards the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.
Some wondered if this truly meant an election was on the horizon; others said that while they didn’t agree with most of his policies, they would support him on this issue.
“Even though I don’t like him. I agree with him on this,” said one person.
“Good… but he will never get my vote,” said another. “Sad to base a vote solely on this. He made a mess.”
Others took a more pragmatic approach.
“Our economy would rise drastically,” said one person. “More people would focus on paying their loans and taxes and spending their money on stuff they really like instead on buying the substance for high price for daily use.”
Malta’s government impressed the cannabis lobby in Malta when it issues it’s first-ever 4/20 video, where Reforms Junior Minister Rosianne Cutajar addressed users directly with a message of solidarity last year. Many saw this as a clear sign of progress on an issue that many countries around the world, including the USA, are currently grappling with.
Recreational cannabis is legal in 15 US states, as well as countries like Canada, South Africa, Uruguay and Georgia.
However, Malta’s cannabis laws can be brutal, with some people being sent to over a decade in prison after being found with cannabis in their own home.
One of the most famous cases of heavy-handed judicial punishment over cannabis is in the infamous case of Daniel Holmes, who was sentenced to over a decade in prison for being found with cannabis seedlings in his Gozitan home. He ended up serving over eight years in Corradino Correctional Facility, before being kicked out of the island on a flight in the middle of the night and barred from returning to Malta for at least five years.
Do you think it’s time for Malta to legalise recreational cannabis?
Prime Minister Robert Abela has declared he is open to discussion about other reforms which are necessary, among which the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use and the discrimination of prostitution, whilst making it clear Malta would not become a country of brothels.
he Prime Minister stated he is still of the same mindset that cannabis for recreational use should be legalised. Dr Abela remarked that there has already been a reduction in penalties for those caught with small amounts of cannabis for personal use.