It’s looking ever more likely that Malta will pass a landmark cannabis reform bill into law before Christmas.
The bill passed its second reading (the debate stage) in Parliament last night, with all government MPs voting in favour and all Opposition MPs voting against.
It will now move on to the final stage – the Consideration of Bills Committee, where MPs will discuss the finer details of the proposed law. And while bills can remain stuck at this stage for months, like the Equality Bill has been, that isn’t the government’s intention with the cannabis reform.
Reforms Minister Owen Bonnici told Lovin Malta that the plan is for this debate to start next week, ideally on Monday.
After it gets through the committee stage, the minister said he will present it for its third reading without delay, after which it will officially become law.
“The aim is to go through the committee stage expeditiously,” Bonnici told Lovin Malta. “We have no intention of shelving this bill or reducing the rhythm and we’ll stick with the same pace.”
The cannabis reform bill proposes that people will be able to carry up to seven grams of cannabis on their person and grow up to four plants at home, with police unable to arrest them unless they have reasonable suspicion of trafficking.
Those found with between 7g and 28g of cannabis will appear in front of a tribunal instead of a criminal court, a significant reduction in the current 3.5g threshold.
The bill also proposes the formation of regulated “cannabis associations”, NGOs which will be licensed to grow cannabis on behalf of its signed-up members.
A new Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis will be set up and people convicted of cannabis-related crimes that are no longer criminal will be able to get these details expunged from their criminal record.
Cover Photo: Left: Reforms Minister Owen Bonnici with members of cannabis lobby group Releaf and PL youth forum Labour Youths after the cannabis bill passed its second reading
Do you agree with the proposed cannabis reform?