The small island country of Malta recently took a big step toward becoming one of the European Union’s medical marijuana leaders. Lawmakers in the country just passed a new law that makes medical marijuana in Malta legal. Not only will the new law give people important access to medical marijuana, it’s also promising to give the country an economic boost.
Medical Marijuana in Malta
Maltese lawmakers have been working on a bill to make medical marijuana legal for some time. Now, they recently completed all reviews, amendments, and debates and have officially settled on a new law.
As reported by Malta Today, the new law will make it legal for family doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to patients. From there, patients can request a medical marijuana card, which will be issued by Malta’s Superintendent of Public Health.
After patients have their card and a prescription, they will be able to purchase non-smokable forms of medical marijuana directly from pharmacies.
The law was celebrated by several lawmakers shortly after being passed.
For example, Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Protection Deo Debattista tweeted:
“Malta has officially legalised medicinal cannabis after recognising the therapeutic benefits of the plant. Proud that we have once again places our citizens’ health and dignity top of the agenda.”
Similarly, the law received support from leading cannabis activist groups. Most notably, the Malta Cannabis Social Club took to Facebook to celebrate the news.
“Medical cannabis has now been legalized and is accessible for patients who need it,” the group wrote.
“All forms of medical cannabis will be available, including the raw plant which can be vaporized or brewed in tea.”
Limits of the Law
While many celebrated the law as a step forward, there were also critiques. Most prominently, many advocates were critical of the limited scope of the law.
In particular, the country is so far only allowing patients with one of three health conditions to use cannabis. Chronic pain, muscle problems stemming from multiple sclerosis, and side effects of chemotherapy are currently the only conditions that qualify for a medical card.
Advocacy group ReLeaf told Malta Today that the law is too narrow and restrictive.
“Internationally recognized conditions treatable by cannabis such as glaucoma, epilepsy, and nausea, to name a few, are not recognized by the Maltese government. We hope that this is rectified in due time to include Maltese sufferers of these illnesses.”
Similarly, the fact that the law continues to prohibit smoking marijuana could be a problem for some. The Malta Cannabis Social Club reminded the public of this restriction.
“Smoking is not recommended and is illegal,” the group wrote on Facebook. “Anyone caught not using the medicine as prescribed may risk losing their control card and their approval to use medical cannabis.”
Final Hit: Medical Marijuana in Malta is Officially Legal
Along with making medical cannabis legal for certain patients, the law could also give the small country an economic boost. Already, officials have reported interest from several international investors.
Malta Enterprise, the government’s investment agency, has already approved five production projects. The projects are being spearheaded by international companies, three from Canada, one from Australia, and one from Israel.
Malta Today reported that the five production projects represent a combined investment of €30 million. Beyond that, the production projects will also create 185 new jobs.