The Mediterranean island of Malta has become the first country in Europe to legalise weed for recreational use.
Passed in parliament on Tuesday after being backed by Prime Minister Robert Abela's Labour Party, the law allows over-18s to possess and buy up to seven grams of cannabis, and cultivate up to four plants.
Under the new rules, due to be enacted this weekend by President George Vella a doctor by profession, non-profit “cannabis clubs” of up to 500 people will be allowed to grow weed for members. People with a past conviction for cannabis possession can apply to have it annulled.
Those caught in possession of larger amounts of weed, up to 28 grams, will have reduced penalties. However, smoking weed in public remains an offence, with fines for smoking in front of children. Malta already allows the use of medical cannabis since regulating it in 2018.
The move in Malta is part of a steady stream of cannabis reform in Europe including in Luxembourg – initially expected to become the first country to legalise weed in Europe but awaiting the green light in parliament – and Germany, which could next year become one of the world’s biggest single cannabis markets.
Releaf Malta, an NGO which campaigned for the law change, told the Times of Malta: “This day is important as it finally recognises that people who consume cannabis are not criminals, or irresponsible non-achievers.”