A long-awaited bill to reform Malta’s cannabis laws is set to be published shortly after Parliament reconvenes in October, Reforms Minister Owen Bonnici has confirmed.
“This legislation is my first priority and I want it to be a good reform,” Bonnici told Lovin Malta.
He said he has held meetings with stakeholders since his appointment to the role last July and, while discussion is still ongoing, he intends to publish the Bill at the earliest convenience once Parliament reconvenes.
This Bill will be the upshot of a White Paper that Prime Minister Robert Abela launched last March with the stated intention of ending the arrest, prosecution, and stigmatisation of cannabis users.
The White Paper proposes that people should be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants at home and that users found in possession of up to 7g of weed will no longer be arrested or prosecuted, up from the current 3.5g limit.
Those found in possession of between 7 and 28g won’t be subject to court proceedings but will be subject to proceedings in front of a tribunal, where they can be fined between €50 and €100.
It also proposes the expungement of criminal records related to cannabis possession, the establishment of a Cannabis Authority and an unspecified legal avenue from which users will be able to purchase cannabis and seeds.
After several people and stakeholders participated in a public consultation process, it remains to be seen whether the government will amend certain principles.
Crucially, the cannabis community will be keeping their eyes peeled for an announcement on how they will be able to purchase cannabis and cannabis seeds through regular means, rather than through the black market.
Andrew Bonello, president of the cannabis lobby group ReLeaf, said he is looking forward to the outcome of the Bill but warned that Bonnici has privately showed skepticism on the White Paper proposals to decriminalise cannabis possession up to 7g and allow people to grow up to four plants at home.
Bonnici told Lovin Malta that his meetings with Bonello were “very interesting and constructive”.
“I asked him genuine questions so as to better understand the full picture,” he said.
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