Rome, Dec 14 (EFE).- The Maltese House of Representatives on Tuesday legalized the cultivation and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes, becoming the first European Union nation to do so.
The driving force behind the bill, Owen Bonnici, MP and current Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation, celebrated the vote, saying “We the change makers” on Twitter.
The law means that the small island state of Malta, which has allowed the consumption of cannabis for medical purposes since 2018, is a pioneer in the EU, becoming the first member state to legalize the use, cultivation and possession of cannabis within certain limits for recreational purposes.
The bill says that those over 18 years of age may possess up to 7 grams of cannabis and its psychoactive derivatives, such as hashish, and may grow up to four plants at home.
In addition, anyone found with between 7 and 28 grams of cannabis will not face criminal charges, but could be given a fine ranging from 50 to 100 euros.
It will still be illegal to consume cannabis in public, except for medical reasons. Police can administer fines of 235 euros to people caught smoking the substance in public, while those consuming it in front of children will face fines of up to 500 euros.
The drug will only be allowed to be consumed in homes or in private, non-profit clubs, similar to those that operate in Spain, which will be the only establishments that are permitted to sell cannabis.
The government and the Labor Party have met with fierce opposition from Catholic associations, which predict a negative impact on society and a “normalization” of drugs.
The Archdiocese of Malta issued a statement on Monday warning that the legislation on recreational cannabis is not “progressive” and will be “harmful” to society.
Luxembourg has also relaxed its cannabis legislation, with adults allowed to grow and consume the plant at home since October, while the new coalition government in neighboring Germany has made legalizing weed for recreational purposes one of its policy priorities. EFE