As Malta inches closer to regulating its illicit black market for cannabis, a businessman who has been active for years in Spain’s legal cannabis market has broken down his vision for the island’s potential social clubs.
A cannabis social club is a private smoker’s club where members have access to high quality, tested cannabis, in a safe and orderly environment. Considered a modern and practical approach to selling cannabis, Nicholas Regan from Pengz Barcelona spoke to Lovin Malta on how a Maltese cannabis social club (CSC) would work.
For Regan, addressing the dangers clients are exposed to while purchasing from the black market combined with the rights and freedoms when operating in a legal market is paramount ahead of a cannabis bill set to be presented by October by the man in charge of cannabis reform, Minister Owen Bonnici.
“There will finally be freedom for Maltese people to consume their cannabis without the worry of severe punishment,” Regan said, breaking down what members of his club get to enjoy.
“This association offers the highest level of a safe, secure, comfortable and friendly place for our members to consume cannabis. Our members have full help and support in the growing of high quality cannabis for personal use. The club is responsible for the quality of the cultivation regarding the cannabis and distribution to the club members. This is managed and overseen by the club and only for our club,” he said.
Being able to directly lower the crime rate while upping the quality of product for clients is a no-brainer for him and others in the industry – but this requires political will and a keen understanding from lawmakers about what’s happening within the community, and the challenges they face.
“Every cannabis social club is set up to protect the rights of cannabis consumers which helps establish cannabis polices that benefit society as a whole,” he said.
“In Malta, there is a very large cannabis community and this idea been discussed for many years,” he continued. “As Malta is a second home to me and being a social club owner myself, I’m very excited for the road ahead and giving the people of Malta and tourists the CSC experience.”
Though the reform is in the hands of Owen Bonnici, a man who has expressed skepticism over cannabis legalisation and is behind the 2015 depenalisation law that many say doesn’t cover the sector appropriately, Regan says he remains hopeful for a more modern law appearing in Malta in October.
“I am totally hopeful at the prospect that Malta will be joining the list of countries to decriminalise cannabis,” he said.
Though successful businesses abroad were proof against this, one fear is that CSCs may become “drug dens” locally.
“The CSC clubs are a friendly, warm and welcoming environment – similar to regular coffee shops, only with the consumption of cannabis on the premises,” he pointed out.
However, a lot needs to be done to have a thriving cannabis industry in Malta as they do in Spain.
“The infrastructure needs to be different,” Regan said. “They’d need to allow license holders to transport cannabis legally to the social to club with cannabis for the members – at the moment this is very difficult.”
However, he noted that the Maltese “political will is complex for several reasons. All I can say is, once Malta’s bill has been released in October, we’ll know a lot more.”
With years of experience in the business, Regan knows that regulation is the safest way forward for the industry.
“Because of the lack of a legal framework with regards to cannabis cultivation for personal use, cannabis consumers have initiated their own model of regulation and control,” Regan said in reference to the rise of CSCs.
“A CSC aims to prevent cannabis consumers from being involved in illegal activities. It will also assure that certain requirements concerning public health and safety are being fulfilled.
CSCs have a protocol for the joining of new members, that includes an explanation of their rights and duties, an indication of the estimated amount of consumption and a private conversation on the history of use.”
“CSCs take a comprehensive written record of consumption made by their members from collective farming, a register in which they shall contain at least a membership number, the amounts withdrawn and the date of withdrawal. For all the members on this register, personal data act is ensured at all times,” he said.
Having held meetings with representatives from the Labour Party, ADPD, ReLeaf, and Malta Enterprises, he looks forward to one day operating a legal cannabis business on the island, selling high quality buds to clients who appreciate the natural plant.
A recent poll held by Lovin Malta revealed what Malta’s consumers wanted to see if the industry ever gets regulated:
Do you think Cannabis Social Clubs will ever open in Malta?