The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

No successful applications for use of medical marijuana yet; one submission rejected

Jacob Borg Friday, 19 June 2015, 09:12 Last update: about 5 years ago

One application for the use of a medical preparation of cannabis has been received since the new drug dependency bill came into force in April 2015.

The application was rejected on the basis that it was not filed by a specialist in the field, a spokesperson for the Justice Ministry said.

Subscriptions will not be handed out willy-nilly.

The drug dependency act states that specialists in certain fields like neurology, oncology and radiotherapy among others shall be entitled to prescribe medicinal preparations cannabis plants if no “viable alternatives” exist.

The drug that can be prescribed – Sativex – is not produced locally.

Sativex is a mouth spray containing cannabis extract and is most commonly used to alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis patients.

A 10ml phial of Sativex costs £125 in the UK, or €170, leading many patients to turn to illegal forms of cannabis.

The drug dependency act also allows for the prescription of “small quantities” of a cannabis plant for “medical purposes.”

Such a prescription has to be approved by the superintendent of public health.

In granting such approval the Superintendent of Public Health may impose such conditions, modalities and limitations with regard to the acquisition, use and length of use of the said drug for medical purposes as he may deem fit,” the Act states.

The Act says that anyone who “sells, procures, acquires or uses the plant cannabis or medicinal preparations thereof” in accordance with the drug dependency act shall not be found guilty of a drug offence.

Fines for those caught with two grammes of cannabis

Those caught in possession of two grammes of cannabis or cannabis resin will now face a fine of between €50 and €100 if found guilty by the Commissioner for Justice.

Being caught with cannabis is still an arrestable offence, although if the arrest results in a fine it will not show up the person’s police conduct.

If a person is found guilty of another offence within two years of the original fine, the Commissioner of Justice may refer the offender to the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board.

This will only be done if the Commissioner suspects “that the circumstances of the convicted person give rise to a probability that he is abusing or is likely to abuse prohibited drugs other than cannabis or cannabis resin.”

Those caught cultivating a cannabis plant for personal use will no longer be subjected to a mandatory jail-term.

 

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