Malta has become the first European country to allow the limited cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use, Reuters reported.
In October, Luxembourg announced similar plans, but its parliament has not yet given the green light to the measure.
The Maltese law, approved today in parliament by 36 votes to 27, allows adult Maltese to own up to 7 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants.
The law was advocated by Maltese Minister Owen Bonichi, who said Malta had adopted a “harm reduction approach” by setting up a body to regulate the sale of cannabis by non-profit organizations to adult citizens for personal use. Smoking cannabis in public places remains illegal and anyone who does it in front of a child will be fined between 300 and 500 euros.
The law has been criticized by the center-right opposition, medical associations and the Church.
Bonichi dismissed speculation that the law would increase drug abuse on the Mediterranean island. “The government does not in any way encourage adults to use cannabis, nor does it promote a culture of cannabis use. The government always calls on people to make healthier choices,” the minister wrote in an article published in the Sunday Times in Malta.
Malta is also trying to establish itself as a European leader in the production of cannabis for medical purposes, after in 2018 it approved legislation that allows the production of cannabis for medical and research purposes.
The Netherlands also has a liberal attitude towards cannabis. It allows the sale of small quantities as part of a policy to fight crime and manage health risks, although cannabis is not officially legal.