VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Malta on Tuesday decriminalized the possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use by adults, and took steps to set up what could become Europe's first cannabis regulatory authority.
Under the new legislative package, it will become legal for anyone 18 and over to possess up to 7 grams of cannabis and to cultivate up to four plants. Growers for personal use can store up to 50 grams of dried marijuana. However, consuming cannabis in public or in the presence of minors remains illegal and subject to fines.
The new regulations will allow for the setting up of non-profit clubs that can distribute cannabis and cannabis plant seeds among their members. And it calls for the establishment of an authority that will work with the government on national policy governing cannabis use.
The minister who sponsored the legislation, Owen Bonnici, said the package aimed “stop treating people who are not criminals like criminals,” create a regulatory system and “protect minors and society at large.”
The passage of the package was not unanimous, with the opposition Nationalist Party arguing that the bill would normalize and increase drug abuse in Malta. It must be signed into law by the president, which is usually a formality.