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Malta Plans To Open Cannabis ‘Clubs’ By End Of Year And Magic Mushrooms Discussion Not Ruled Out 

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Malta’s first-ever cannabis associations, which will grow cannabis and distribute it to their members, could be set to open within the next six months.

Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms Rebecca Buttigieg told Lovin Malta that her office is currently working to ensure the authorities have the necessary resources in place to abide by the end-of-year timeline that has been provided by Mariella Dimech, chairperson of the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC).

“Six months ago, Malta was courageous enough to face reality and pass a historic reform for the responsible use of cannabis,” Buttigieg said. “It was a huge step forward that many thought would never arrive and yet here we are, the first EU member state to take this step.” 

“We had to set up an authority responsible to regulate it and we are now at a stage where the authority is being set up to effectively implement the law and ensure it is used responsibly.”

A landmark law Malta passed last December to regulate the personal use of cannabis allows the establishment of “cannabis associations”, essentially NGOs that can grow cannabis on behalf of its signed-up members.

Cannabis associations will be regulated by ARUC and must abide by the following criteria to obtain a license.

  • Clean police conduct
  • Business plan
  • Training certificate for all employees for: a) Cultivation; b) Storage; c) Dispensation; d) Delivery from point a to point b;
  • No connection to criminal organisations;
  • Insurance;
  • Never had a cannabis license revoked or suspended
  • Residency in Malta
  • Commit to supply all necessary data to the centralised data collection system;
  • Have not been promoting or commercialising the use of cannabis
  • All applications will need to provide a clear plan of action which includes plans for cultivation, storage, deliveries and dispensation. 

Although the regulatory process has yet to start six months down the line, Buttigieg urged people to take everything step by step, noting that people can already grow and smoke cannabis at home in peace and get their criminal records for cannabis possession expunged.

ARUC chairperson Mariella Dimech

ARUC chairperson Mariella Dimech

As for confusion over the legal status of cannabidiol (CBD), which has prompted cannabis lobby group Releaf to launch a parliamentary petition, Buttigieg said she is ensuring the authorities meet up regularly to ensure the spirit of the law is requested.

Buttigieg’s predecessor Owen Bonnici had said CBD products will be completely legalised once the law passes.

“The law has passed, which is a huge milestone that sometimes I feel we forget about,” Buttigieg said.

“We are six months down the line and making sure the spirit of the law is respected and that the authority has the necessary resources to implement these promises. I think our track record speaks for itself… we deliver on our promises.”

Could magic mushrooms be next?

It may sound slightly outlandish to some but a global movement to decriminalise or legalise psychedelic substances is growing, with the US state of Washington set to discuss a bill that would allow adults to use psilocybin under supervision.

In Malta, former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has called for the regulation of psychedelics that can be used in medical settings, stating that at least two investors are already interested in this regard.

Asked whether this could be on the cards for Malta, Buttigieg said that while the regulation of psychedelics wasn’t part of the PL’s 2022 manifesto, she is open to suggestions from the public.

“At the end of the day we’re a government of the people and if there are any relevant suggestions, I invite people to come forward,” she said, also noting Prime Minister Robert Abela’s recent call for expungement to be extended to the possession of all drugs.

Do you intend to sign up to a cannabis association? 

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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