If you ever did happen to ask the government, one of the main reasons they said cannabis legalisation could not happen in Malta was due to the United Nation’s 1961 IV Schedule.
The ranking, which is now over half a century old, had classified cannabis as a drug with little or no medicinal value, alongside hard substances like heroin.
Over the last 60 years, however, more and more evidence showing that cannabis, and derivatives such as CBD, can have potentially serious therapeutic and beneficial results in a variety of conditions and syndromes.
Now, after the World Health Organisation recommended its rescheduling, the UN’s Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to remove the plant from the list. It still remains a banned drug for non-medical use under UN law – but the United Nations has officially recognised the medicinal value of cannabis.
This decision is set to lead to more countries allowing patients access to cannabis-based medicines, as well as more research into the plant. As it stands, over 50 countries in the world allow medicinal cannabis in some form. Two countries, and 15 US states, have also legalised the recreational use of the drug, with Luxumbourg and Mexico set to become the next countries to do so.
Malta legalised medicinal cannabis a few years back and even provided several varieties for local patients who can obtain a prescription for it.
Over 100 patients are believed to use the medicine, even though it has suffered from being out of stock a number of times already.
The island had been touted to become a medical cannabis hub of Europe for a while, but things have seemingly slowed down. A major sticking point for many Maltese people is that the non-psychoactive substance CBD is still not regulated in Malta, even though you can buy it over the counter in Europe and the UK.
And it’s not just the UN changing tact on cannabis – just recently, the European Union ruled that member states could no longer ban the trading of CBD.
Reacting to the new classification, Junior Minister for Reforms Rosianne Cutajar told Lovin Malta the government was monitoring the new changes.
“We are in fact following the latest developments to see how we can ensure further justice to cannabis and CBD users,” she said.
And it’s not just him for the Maltese political scene. Noting that the word “narcotic” and its implications stood in the way of further research into a medicine that could benefit people, MEP Alex Agius Saliba welcomed the change from the EU.
“Patients using medicinal cannabis are not using narcotic drugs,” he said in an interview with EURACTIV, urging European lawmakers to make access to medicinal cannabis a priority.
Beyond Cutajar issuing a surprise 4/20 video directed at Malta’s estimated 40,000 cannabis users, the government has done little in 2020 when it comes to improving access to medicinal cannabis, and even recreational cannabis, for Maltese users.
Only time will tell if the UN’s and EU’s decision will have any lasting effect on local politics.