Weed in Malta: Cannabis Legal Status Guide

Author
Author Ryan Allan
16 January 2023
Wondering if weed is legal in Malta? Read our in-depth Maltese cannabis law and legal status guide.
16 January 2023
32 min read
Weed in Malta: Cannabis Legal Status Guide

Contents:
Read more
  • 1. Cannabis laws in malta
  • 1. a. Possession
  • 1. b. Sale
  • 1. c. Growing
  • 2. Is cbd legal in malta?
  • 3. Is it legal to send cannabis seeds to malta?
  • 4. Medicinal cannabis in malta
  • 5. Industrial hemp in malta
  • 6. History and politics
  • 7. Helpful hints

The beautiful island of Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean sea between Sicily and the North African coast. Home to just over 500,000 people and a popular destination for tourists from across Europe, Malta is famed for its fortresses, megalithic temples, and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, an underground complex of halls and burial chambers that dates back to 4000 B.C. More recently, the county has become something of a digital nomad hotspot, with the island’s temperate all-year climate drawing a younger populous, having once been regarded as something of a retirement hotspot.

With a changing political and social landscape, the country has grabbed the headlines with its recently introduced cannabis legislation. In today’s article, we’ll take a closer look at the updated Malta Weed laws and answer all of your vital questions, including “is weed legal in Malta?”.

Cannabis laws in Malta

Malta became the first European nation to legalize cannabis for recreational use in December 2021. Signed into law by President Vella, having been first approved by a majority of Maltese MPs, Legal Notice 478 - known as the Responsible Use of Cannabis Act - established a new set of legal guidelines and laws related to the use of cannabis on the island. As such, we can now answer in the affirmative to the “is weed legal in Malta” poser.

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Possession

Malta’s Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis Act was officially signed into law on Saturday, December 18th, 2021. While the new legislation didn’t fully legalize cannabis, it did establish a new set of legal parameters that permits adults (anyone aged 18 or over) to possess, purchase or grow cannabis. Under the new legislation, Malta weed laws allow residents to:

 

  • Possess up to seven grams of cannabis flowers
  • Store in their home up to 50 grams of cannabis flowers
  • Apply to have any previous convictions for cannabis possession deleted from their criminal history
  • Establish associations (i.e. cannabis clubs) that allow cannabis growing and distribution among the organization’s members.

 

Much like the existing cannabis legislation in Catalonia, Spain, while marijuana use is no longer the crime it once was, it is still possible to fall foul of the law.

The 2021 changes to Malta Weed laws also established a clear set of paraments concerning cannabis use and possession, including:

 

  • Anyone found to be in possession of between 7 and 28g of cannabis must appear at a tribunal, where an offender can expect a fine of up to €100
  • Anyone caught smoking cannabis in public will have to appear in front of a judge where a fine of up to €235 may be imposed.
  • An adult found to be smoking cannabis in the presence of a child, either at home or in public, will also have to appear in court, where a heavier fine of up to €500 is typically issued. 
  • Anyone under the age of 18 found to be in possession of cannabis in Malta will not face arrest or criminal charges. Instead, they will be referred to a justice commission to establish a “care plan”.

Sale

The recently introduced legislation for cannabis in Malta allows adults to establish cannabis clubs where members can gain access to legalized marijuana. The sole purpose of the associations is to allow those who are unable to cultivate their own cannabis to purchase it legally in a safe place.

 

Weed in malta: sale

Recent legalization in Malta introduced cannabis clubs where members have access to legal cannabis.
 

As mentioned, a similar setup currently exists in some regions of Spain, most notably in Catalonia, with Barcelona home to over 200 such establishments. Under the legislation, anyone who opens a cannabis association to offer weed in Malta must ensure to follow a set of guidelines and restrictions, including:

 

  • All cannabis organizations must be operated as non-profit organizations.
  • Private companies may not operate a cannabis organization.
  • All cannabis associations must be located more than 250 meters from any school or college.
  • An association may have a maximum membership of 500 people.
  • A maximum of seven grams can be sold to a member in a 24-hour period or up to 50 grams per month.
  • Organizations may sell their members up to twenty cannabis seeds per month to allow for the cultivation of marijuana at home.
  • All associations must register their premises with the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis with a three-month report to be carried out every year.
  • The members of cannabis organizations will be kept anonymous.

Growing

Under the 2021 legislation introduced for cannabis in Mala, it is now permitted for Maltese citizens to cultivate up to four marijuana plants in their own homes. A maximum of four plants may be cultivated per household (not per person), and the plants should not be visible to neighbors or the general public.

Is CBD legal in Malta?

Yes - CBD is legal and available in a variety of CBD shops that can be found throughout the country. While regulations that currently exist suggest a medicinal cannabis card is required to access CBD legally, this is not typically the case in practice. As a member of the EU, Malta is bound by the 2020 E.U. court ruling, which declared that CBD products are no longer to be considered narcotics, and as such, “a country of the European Union cannot prohibit the marketing of cannabidiol legally produced in another member state.” 

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Is it Legal to Send Cannabis Seeds to Malta?

As a member of the E.U., Cannabis seeds may be imported into Malta without restriction.

Medicinal Cannabis in Malta

Malta would make its first move towards a future of legalized medicinal cannabis act with the approval of the Drug Dependence Act in 2015. The legislation helped to establish guidelines for patients to access medicinal cannabis-based treatments (Sativex being the first of its kind to achieve legal status in Malta). Anyone seeking to use such treatments would require a prescription from government-approved physicians only.

 

Weed in malta: medicinal cannabis

Under 2018 legislation, those suffering from chronic pain, Spasticity, and side-effects from Chemotherapy can have access to medical cannabis.
 

However, just three years later, Malta would move a step further when in 2018, it legalized the usage of medical cannabis via prescription. No longer restricting patients to cannabis-based treatments only, the new law allowed patients to gain access to the raw plant. However, smokable flowers remained illegal. Under the 2018 legislation, the law provided provisions for those suffering from one of three conditions:

 

  • Chronic Pain
  • Spasticity in M.S.
  • Side-effects from Chemotherapy

 

Unfortunately, prescriptions for medicinal cannabis treatments are not covered by the public healthcare system.

Industrial Hemp in Malta

Further changes to Maltese Cannabis laws in 2018 included the Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Research Purposes Act. As a result of this legislation, it is now possible to cultivate, import, process, and produce cannabis intended for medical and research purposes under a controlled environment. 

A billion-dollar industry that continues to grow exponentially, Malta’s government appears keen to get its own slice of the action. Since the changes to the law, several industrial hemp farms and manufacturers have been established in Malta. The first commercial export of medical cannabis from Malta for sale in another country was conducted by Materia Malta in the summer of 2022.

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History and Politics

Having once adopted a more hardline approach towards cannabis usage, Maltese political attitudes would undergo a dramatic seachange in recent years. Just seven years ago, in 2015, the Maltese government took its first steps to introduce policies that would decriminalize the use of cannabis on the island. While possession was still considered an “arrestable offense”, those found in possession of small quantities of 3.5 grams or less were effectively decriminalized. Akin to a minor infraction such as a fixed penalty for a driving offense, first-time offenders would receive a small fine of between €50 and €100.

Then in February 2021, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced the country’s intention to introduce new laws that would legalize the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana. A dramatic shifting of approach towards cannabis legality is now being witnessed across the globe and in the E.U. Indeed, the Maltese decision to legalize cannabis for recreational use follows a decision by the U.N. in 2021 to remove the plant from its list of dangerous drugs. 

Now, Maltese cannabis legalization is expected to be mirrored across Europe, with several E.U. member states expected to follow suit. The German government recently announced plans to establish a legally regulated recreational cannabis market in 2024, following similar plans announced by Switzerland and Luxembourg. In addition, Italy is expected to hold a referendum on cannabis regulations. Rather than criminalizing cannabis use, the Maltese approach aims to ensure a regulated and safe marketplace for cannabis consumers. Minister for equality, research, and innovation Owen Bonnici explained the reasoning behind his country’s new approach to cannabis. 

 

Weed in malta: history and politics

The Maltese approach aims to ensure a regulated and safe marketplace for cannabis consumers.
 

“There is a wave of understanding now that the hard-fist approach against cannabis users was disproportionate, unjust, and it was rendering a lot of suffering to people who are leading exemplary lives. But the fact that they make use on a personal basis of cannabis is putting them in the jaws of criminality." “I’m very glad that Malta will be the first country which will put words in statute in a comprehensive manner with a regulatory authority”, he explained.

Bonnici also explained that while the government had debated whether to put controls on the strength of cannabis that can be grown, it was finally determined that such a measure would instead prove counter-productive. “We had a huge discussion internally on that. And we concluded that if a limit [can be put] on the strength of the cannabis, the THC levels, you will be creating a new market for the black market. What we need to do is to educate people and inform them day after day.” Of course, the determination that THC alone is the sole contributing factor towards the overall potency of cannabis is a misnomer that really needs to be addressed. Still, despite their misguided deliberations, the Maltese government does appear to have reached the correct decision with respect to any possible controls over THC levels.

Helpful Hints

While Malta’s changing cannabis laws have allowed for the establishment of recreational associations, actually purchasing cannabis when visiting the island could be a little more complicated. As of today, there are no public dispensaries with access to recreational weed in Malta restricted to Maltese citizens only. There have been reports that the Maltese government could consider broader access to include tourists; however, such changes to the law have yet to materialize. 

 

Country Prevalence of cannabis use in the last year in Europe as of 2020 by country
Czech Republic 11.1%
France 11%
Spain 10.5%
Croatia 10.2%
Italy 10.2%
Netherlands 10.1%
Finland 8.2%
UK 7.1%
Germany 7.1%
Ireland 7.1%
Malta 0.9%

Prevalence of cannabis use in the last year in Europe as of 2020 by country.

 

As of 2020, Maltese cannabis consumption was one of the smallest in Europe, with less than one percent of the population said to use the plant on a regular basis. Of course, that could rise in the coming years with Malta opening the door towards legalized recreational access. A spectacular island that offers sun, sea, and sand, weed could yet become a fourth staple of the Maltese tourist industry in the years to come. 


If you want to learn more about cannabis in Malta and the changing cannabis laws from Europe and beyond, check out our in-depth Fast Buds blog section, where you’ll find all the latest cannabis news, grow tips, and much more.