Malta’s first movement advocating the legalisation of cannabis for personal use has officially launched, publishing a 20-page manifesto during a press conference outside Parliament this morning.
The movement, called ReLeaf, published an outline of its main proposals two weeks ago but has now gone into far more detail in its manifesto, which we are breaking down below.
1. Medical cannabis
The law regulating medical cannabis must be loosened so as to allow patients with a range of conditions to access it at pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription, the same as other prescription medicines. Medical cannabis must be allowed in its various forms (vapour, oil, flower, edibles, extracts) and must be easily-available, with the government to provide it is out of stock. The medicine must be obtained from licensed medicinal growers or distributors, grown and treated in Malta, or obtained from licensed foreign manufacturers.
2. Personal use and growing
Adults aged 21 or older should be allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants per person (with a maximum of four mature ones), legally possess all cannabis from the plants they grow, possess up to 30g of on their person while in public, and gift up to 30g of it to other adults. A maximum of 12 cannabis plants can be possessed or grown in the same house, assuming more than one resident wants to grow, but people will be able to seek exceptions from the authorities to grow up to 24 plants.
As is common in Barcelona, people who cannot grow their own weed at home will be able to waive their rights to licensed ‘social clubs’ who will grow plants for them on their behalf.
A social club in Barcelona
3. Government regulation
A ministerial department should be set up to handle both licensing issuance as well as testing and quality control of weed.
Six different types of licenses will be introduced – commercial licenses, industrial licenses, distributor licenses, small business licenses, social club licenses, and research and development licenses.
A commission should be set up to study the best tax level to be levied on cannabis sales, but the product should not be over-taxed so as to prevent users from turning to the black market. A percentage (20 – 30%) of the generated taxation income should be allocated to the improvement of education and drug rehabilitation, as well as to increase police roadside enforcement.
All merchandising regulations concerning tobacco should be carried to cannabis, meaning all cannabis products would be clearly marked with a health warning.
4. Criminal aspect
Anyone caught selling cannabis to minors or on the black market will be harshly punished, while fines are also envisaged for people found growing over the legal amount. Consumption of cannabis should be permitted in a manner similar to alcohol, with equivalent offenses prescribed for driving under the influence or smoking weed in public places.
The use of cannabis while under parole should no longer be punishable, while amnesties should be granted to people who have already been convicted of cannabis possession or trafficking.
5. Commercial restrictions
Licensed cannabis dispensaries will only be allowed to operate from 8am until midnight and must be located in commercial zones and at least 100m away from schools, community centres and youth facilities which serve vulnerable youth.
Cannabis dispensaries will not be allowed to sell alcohol and must verify the age of their patrons before allowing them entry.
People who wish to open a dispensary will be subjected to the same legal requirements and conditions as if they were to open another commercial outlet, and they cannot have ever committed a violent crime or any crime related to children.
Similar to cigarette vendors, dispensaries will not be allowed to advertise on any media accessible to minors nor any venues or locations visited by minors, and cannot use any materials, colours or themes in their products which may be attractive to minors.
6. Tourism and research
Tourists will be allowed to use and buy cannabis while in Malta, but will face prosecution if they attempt to travel abroad with cannabis on their person.
Researches will be allowed to apply for specific licenses that allow the production and processing of cannabis for research purposes. Applicants must submit a description of their planned research, and if the research involves a public entity or public funds, then the application should be reviewed by a scientific advisory commission.
7. Hemp Cultivation
The environment ministry or a newly set-up Cannabis Authority should be set up to regulate hemp production. Applicants who wish to cultivate industrial hemp for commercial purposes must provide the name and address of the applicant and the legal description, global positioning system location, and map of the land area on which the applicant plans to engage in hemp cultivation.
The application must identify by name each officer, director, member, partner or owner of at least 10% of the entity and applicants may be denied registration for up to three years if any of the listed people were previously subject to discipline.