Whilst cannabis for recreational use remains an arrestable offence in Malta, the country has followed in the footsteps of Canada, Australia, and the Czech Republic by approving the use and possession of medical cannabis with a prescription.
In March 2018, the President of Malta signed into law, legislation that governed the use of medical marijuana, and it is now taking aggressive steps towards making the cultivation of such products a new, local industry. In addition to this, it appears that suitably qualified entities will be authorised to conduct research into the use and benefits of cannabis as a medical product.
The “Production of Cannabis for Medicinal Use Act, 2018’ provides all of the legal guidelines for those that wish to produce cannabis for medicinal use and it describes the process that needs to be followed in order to apply.
Can anyone grow cannabis in Malta?
The answer to this is a most definitely no, and the Act makes it clear that “no production of any products intended for medicinal use deriving from or resulting from the use of cannabis as defined in this Act and no trade in cannabis and, or any preparations intended for medicinal use as deriving from cannabis shall be carried out in Malta prior to obtaining all necessary approvals, authorisations, licences and, or permits as required by or under all applicable laws including this Act and any regulations made thereunder.”
Anyone that wants to grow, harvest, sell, or do anything else with marijuana for medical purposes, must apply for the applicable legal authorisation to do so, as per the terms of the Act. Any form of cannabis that is grown or used for recreational purposes remains completely illegal under any circumstances.
What steps need to be taken to apply for authorisation?
In order to apply for the necessary permissions and licenses to cultivate medical marijuana, the entity must follow a number of steps. Firstly, they must obtain a letter of intent from Malta Enterprise after making an application with them directly. Then they must ensure that they are in full compliance with both the provisions of the Act, as well as international obligations resulting from any treaty that Malta may from time to time be party to. They must also show compliance will all regulations relating to the production of medical products, as laid out in the Medicines Act. At this point, they are able to apply for a license with the regulatory authority and must then wait to see if their application is approved or declined.
How can this new industry benefit Malta?
There are several ways in which the cultivation of medical cannabis can potentially benefit the Maltese economy. Firstly, those entities that apply for permission to grow and/or process the product will need to employ significant numbers of staff to help them do so. Secondly, the export and taxes on such products are expected to bring a substantial amount of revenue to the local market. If the industry’s regulations are enforced correctly and standards are maintained, Malta could seek to benefit from this potentially lucrative industry.
In the next article we will take a more in-depth look at the licensing process as well as the requirements and standards that entities wishing to engage in the industry are expected to meet.