Although some EU members have already decriminalized marijuana, some are en route to do so, and Luxembourg and Germany are expected to fully legalize recreational cannabis next year, Malta has become the first EU member to take the bold step of complete legalization.
A new law permits those over the age of 18 to possess up to seven grams of marijuana and grow up to four plants at home. It also permits non-profit organizations with a membership of up to 500 persons to cultivate the plant for their members.
The regulation will also lessen the penalty for persons in possession of greater amounts of cannabis. Adults caught with up to 28 grams of cannabis for personal enjoyment may face a tribunal rather than a court, as well as a maximum fine of €100.
Cannabis consumption in public will remain unlawful and punishable by a €235 fine, however doing so in front of a kid, whether in public or privately, would result in a punishment ranging from €300 to €500.
The bill's sponsors are also proposing for the creation of an authority that will collaborate with the government to define national cannabis policy.
The measure was supported by Prime Minister Robert Abela's Labour Party and approved by a vote of 36 to 27. To become law, the measure must now be signed by the president.
Once that consent is secured, the administration expects to take the bill into force immediately," said one sponsor, Owen Bonnici. Bonnici, Malta's minister for equality, research, and innovation, stated that the government want to "stop treating individuals who are not criminals like criminals" and to establish a legislative framework to "protect youngsters and society at large."
"We are proposing to solve a problem and using the harm reduction approach by regulating the industry, so that individuals do not have to turn to the illegal market to procure cannabis," President Abela told MPs last month.
"We are discouraging individuals from consuming cannabis while not criminalizing those who do. Drug trafficking will continue to be banned "Abela said.
The law was opposed by the opposition Nationalist Party, who warned that it would "normalize and exacerbate drug usage."
The move comes only a few weeks after Luxembourg revealed identical plans. Germany's new administration likewise intends to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
Among other EU countries, Spain and the Netherlands accept cannabis usage and cultivation for personal use to varying degrees, while the Czech Republic and Portugal have decriminalized cannabis for personal use.
Uruguay, Canada, Georgia, Mexico, South Africa, and 18 US states, as well as the capital of Washington, DC, have all legalized recreational cannabis use on a global scale.
Medical marijuana is also permitted in a number of nations throughout the world. Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom are among the European nations on the list.