George Vella, president of the central Mediterranean nation of Malta, recently approved cannabis legalization legislation just days after Malta’s Parliament voted the bill into law with a 36-27 vote, making Malta the first European country to legalize cannabis completely.
Sponsored by MP Owen Bonnici, citizens 18 and older can now possess as many as seven grams of cannabis in public, have fifty grams at home, and cultivate up to four plants for their own use.
“The entry into force of this robust legislative framework underlines this government’s willingness to make bold decisions by implementing wise and unprecedented reforms in order to bring about change and social justice in the best interests of society as a whole,” said Bonnici, in a media advisory.
Anyone 18 or older in possession of more than seven grams but less than twenty-eight grams of cannabis in public can face a fine of €50 to €100. However, such an offense will not result in jail time or a criminal record. Minors found to have any amount of cannabis will not be arrested but will be referred to receive treatment.
There is no component of the new legislation that allows the creation of a legal retail cannabis industry. However, non-profit cooperatives are allowed to cultivate and distribute to their membership, with up to 500 members each. Each member may be supplied up to seven grams per day, with no more than fifty grams being distributed per month.
Some lawmakers voiced opposition to the bill.
“To date, the president does not have the power to ignore a law that was passed democratically by Parliament, whether he agrees with it or not, unless he has such a serious moral objection that he prefers to pack up and go home rather than sign that law,” Bonnici responded.
“The head of state cannot capriciously create a constitutional crisis and cause instability,” he continued. “There is nothing in our Constitution that gives the president the final say on a law; otherwise, we will create a dictator who decides what becomes law at a whim.”
Bonnici is Malta’s minister for equality, research, and innovation and is designated to enact the new cannabis legislation into law.
Vivian McPeak is a Seattle based social justice activist, media personality, and writer. Vivian is the president of Seattle Events, a Non-Profit Organization, producer of the Seattle HEMPFEST®, the world’s largest annual cannabis policy reform rally. The recipient of the High Times Magazine 2012 Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award and DOPE Magazine 2016 Emery Award for lifetime achievement, and in 2016 he was named one of the “50 Most Influential People” by Seattle Magazine. Vivian has appeared on numerous television and cable news networks, including FOX News, CNN, & NBC. McPeak is the host of Hempresent, a weekly radio podcast on Cannabis Radio with listeners on multiple continents.