Malta has officially legalised medicinal cannabis, joining a growing number of European countries recognising the therapeutic benefits of the plant. The amendments to the Drug Dependence Act (Treatment not Imprisonment) were enacted on 23rd March by Maltese parliament after its third and final reading.
The bill, amongst other things, allows family doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to patients. Patients will be able to access non-smoking forms of medicine at pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription after a control card has been approved by the Superintendent of Public Health.
So far, three conditions are eligible to be treated by medicinal cannabis: chronic pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis and side effects of chemotherapy.
The new legislation was welcomed by pro-cannabis groups ReLeaf and Malta Cannabis Social Club, as well as medical clinics such as The Pain Clinic.
While many praised the bill, some people called out the government for not allowing patients to grow the plant for themselves.
The enactment of this bill comes ahead of another bill regulating the production of medicinal cannabis in Malta that is well on its way.
Malta Enterprise announced it had given the green light to five foreign companies to begin producing medical cannabis in Malta, the Times of Malta reported.
The project is set to create 185 jobs, and the combined investment is €30 million. Three of the companies are Canadian, while one is Australian and the other is Isreali.
The government expressed its approval of the amended bill being passed, and the government now turns towards regulating the manufacturing of cannabis. Once this is done, from a legal standpoint, the groundwork will have been set for Malta’s medical cannabis industry to take off.
One step closer to introducing law regulating production of cannabis for medicinal&research purposes as discussions in committee hv been concluded #Proud to be piloting this bill to introduce a new economic niche @JosephMuscat_JM @deodebattista @stefanzrinzo
— Chris Cardona (@ChrisCardonaMP) March 26, 2018
— Stefan Zrinzo (@stefanzrinzo) March 26, 2018
Malta now joins the likes of Finland, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, Greece, and Germany, who have also legalised medicinal cannabis in one form or another.