Malta Has Also Decided to Legalise Cannabis: Here’s What Happened

Malta legalises recreational cannabis consumption | Justbob

Modified on: 15/04/2024

Adults May Have up to Seven Grams for Personal Consumption, Grow up to 4 Plants for Home use, and Buy Small Quantities from Authorized Dealers.

The first country in the world to have legalized it is Uruguay where cannabis has been legal since 2014. After the South American country, several other states have taken this path, legalizing the recreational use of cannabis and CBD cannabis, for example, several American states, Canada, Georgia, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand.

Malta has been added to this long list in December 2021, having been the first European country to legalize cannabis for recreational use and to promote the spread of cannabis cafes.

In this article we examine the Legal Notice n. 478 of 2021, which gave rise to the Authority for the responsible use of cannabis, to learn about its main developments.

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Cannabis Legalization Malta: The Maltese Law on the Responsible Use of Cannabis

The Maltese law on the use of cannabis | Justbob

Robert Abela, Prime Minister of Malta, when presenting this important reform in Parliament, had stated that the legalization of cannabis would significantly reduce the demand from the black market.

At the same time, legalization would have prompted consumers to embark on “a safe and regular path to obtain it,” according to Owen Bonnici, the reform minister, which was already promoted when CBD got fully legalized. From then on, all effects of CBD were investigated, as well as cannabis possible benefits, gradually, of course.

Exactly one year after the reform came into force, it is still early to verify its effects on the population, but studies carried out in countries where legalization has already taken place seem to confirm that many consumers have gone from the illegal to the legal market, achieving thus reducing the income from the black market and ending the criminalization of cannabis use.

Let us see, then, the main novelties contained in the law of the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis. In summary, the law not only promotes the “responsible use of cannabis”, but also encourages to cultivate cannabis and purchase it for recreational purposes.

Smoking Cannabis: The Changes Introduced by the Maltese Law on its Legalization

More in detail, there are 3 important changes in the law on the responsible use of cannabis.

In the first place, detention is decriminalized: all adults can carry up to 7 grams with them without incurring any type of sanction; Anyone found in possession of a quantity of cannabis between 7 and 28 grams will not be subject to criminal proceedings but will only receive a fine of between 50 and 100 euros.

The law provides that people who have already been convicted of cannabis possession have these offenses removed from their criminal record:

  • cultivation for home use is allowed, within the limits of a maximum of 4 cannabis plants (up to 50 grams of dry inflorescences can be kept at home);
  • small amounts of cannabis can be purchased from non-profit retailers (who are not allowed to advertise)

In particular, these non-profit associations involved in the sale (in fact, operating similar to Spanish social clubs) may sell cannabis exclusively to members (no more than 500 per individual association) and for a personal amount not exceeding 7 grams per day (50 grams per month).

However, limits are placed on recreational use, which is confined within the home or within authorized premises. Therefore, the consumption of cannabis in public places or even in private places is prohibited, but only in the presence of minors.

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Cannabis Associations and Their Struggles

The journey towards legalizing cannabis in Malta has been fraught with challenges and obstacles for cannabis associations advocating for change.

Despite being the first European Union country to legalize marijuana for personal use up to no more than seven grams, the road to reform has been met with resistance from various quarters. While medical cannabis users and proponents of responsible use have pushed for regulatory frameworks to support their needs, concerns over drug trafficking and criminal justice implications have slowed progress.

The Maltese Parliament has grappled with crafting legislation that balances the rights of individuals with public safety considerations, mirroring similar debates across European governments. Non-profit organizations and cannabis clubs have worked tirelessly to educate the public and policymakers about the benefits of legalization, emphasizing the need for a legally regulated market to combat the illegal market and promote responsible consumption.

Despite challenges, there is growing momentum and more support for reform, signaling potential shifts in Malta’s approach towards cannabis laws and paving the way for a more progressive stance in the EU’s smallest member state.

The decriminalization of cannabis in Ireland

The bill to legalise personal cannabis use in Ireland represents a significant milestone in the evolution of drug policy within the European Union. This move mirrors the legislative changes seen in Malta, where cannabis legalization for personal use, up to seven grams, has already been enacted.

In both instances, cannabis associations and advocacy groups have been instrumental in pushing for reforms, highlighting the need for more compassionate and pragmatic approaches to cannabis use.

By decriminalizing cannabis possession and cultivation, Ireland might acknowledge the realities of cannabis consumption while also aiming to reduce the harmful impacts of criminalization, particularly on individuals with medical needs and those caught in the cycle of the criminal justice system due to minor drug offenses.

The shift towards a more tolerant stance on cannabis reflects a growing recognition across European governments of the need to address drug policies that disproportionately affect marginalized communities and perpetuate cycles of incarceration.

Ireland’s decision to possibly embrace responsible use of cannabis and create a legally regulated market signals a departure from the previous tough approach to drug enforcement, which often resulted in individuals facing jail time and acquiring criminal records for minor cannabis-related offenses.

Decriminalisation of home cultivation | Justbob

Furthermore, the inclusion of provisions allowing to possess up to 7 grams for personal use acknowledges the importance of personal autonomy and self-sufficiency for cannabis users.

This move not only aligns with the trend seen in Malta and other European countries but also responds to the demand for alternatives to the black market and the desire for safe access to cannabis products.

As Ireland becomes one of the latest European country to propose cannabis decriminalization measures, it sets a precedent for other nations to follow suit.

The decision underscores the need for comprehensive drug policy reform that prioritizes public health, harm reduction, and social justice. By removing barriers to access and promoting responsible use, Ireland paves the way for a more equitable and compassionate approach to cannabis regulation within the European Union and beyond.


In summary, Malta’s decision to legalize cannabis, besides CBD oils, weed and legal hash, marks a significant shift in drug policy within the European Union. With the enactment of this new law, adults are now permitted to possess up to seven grams of cannabis for personal consumption, cultivate up to four plants for home use, and purchase small quantities from authorized dealers.

This move reflects a growing recognition of the need for responsible use of cannabis and the desire to mitigate the harmful effects of criminalization. By adopting a tolerance policy and embracing regulatory frameworks, Malta sets an example for other countries to follow in addressing the complexities surrounding cannabis laws.

This landmark decision not only demonstrates a commitment to individual liberties but also acknowledges the evolving attitudes towards cannabis consumption in the modern era.

As Malta becomes the first EU country to legalize cannabis, it opens the door for further discussions and reforms within the region, paving the way for a more progressive and equitable approach to drug regulation.

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