The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

No timeframe provided for recreational cannabis legislation

Jeremy Micallef Tuesday, 13 August 2019, 09:14 Last update: about 3 months ago

No timeframe for the legalisation of cannabis was provided to this newspaper by the government, following questions sent to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

With the liberalisation and regulation of the medicinal cannabis market coming through just recently, the next possible step for this administration could be the complete legalisation for recreational cannabis.

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The spokesperson explained that “legislating is the easiest part of all”, and that they “prefer to take the longest route and ascertain that our society has all the necessary and adequate systems and structures in place in order to ascertain that we protect our society”.

Indeed, earlier this month a Memorandum of Understanding worth €405,000 was signed between the Parliamentary Secretariat for Reforms and the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) which covers a number of initiative and specifically addressing the needs of an educational campaign.  Through this agreement it would be able to continue its work in schools against drug abuse.

Parliamentary Secretary for Reformd Jiulia Farrugia Portelli had previously said that legalising marijuana for recreational use is to be preceeded by an informative campaign highlighting the danger of drug use.

It was also explained on the day of the signing that through the agreement, the FSWS will be able to purchase vehicles which can be used in public activities aimed at sending positive messages, and also a number of publications will be distributed in schools together with educational games and secondary school sessions and community activities will also take place.

The spokesperson initially explained that the Maltese government is indeed taking a holistic approach towards the regulation of the use of cannabis to such extent that is preparing and the foundation based on education, alternative means of recreation and proactive support services.

Recently Luxembourg announced that it plans to legalise recreational cannabis within two years following a “fact-finding” mission by the country’s Health Minister Etienne Schneider and Justice Minister Félix Braz, who went to countries where cannabis is legalised recreationally.

 

Local Developments

The movement to begin the production of medical cannabis is definitely at full steam ahead as just last week MGC Pharma signed an agreement with the government to set up a production base on the island.

Apart from serving as an access point for the European market, MGC Pharma founder Native Segev said that their new complex will not only work on medical cannabis production but also on biochemical and bio-scientific research.

Economy Minister Chris Cardona had noted that since the legislation to regulate the medical cannabis industry had been introduced last year, the niche sector had been growing “significantly and successfully”.

He had also added that investment such as that of MGC Pharma affirms Malta’s position as a European leader in the medical cannabis sector after it became the first European country to introduce legislation on this sector.

MGC Pharma received a 6,000 square metre multi-story facility in Hal-Far where they will produce medical cannabis and carry out research work.  The company will be investing €11 million and by its third year of operations will have created 27 full-time jobs.

Apart from movement in the medical sector, we also saw a crackdown on the synthetic drug known as “Chinese ecstasy”, a new designer drug responsible for at least 125 deaths.

The United Nations (UN) had ordered a worldwide ban on the drug, N-ethylnorpentylone, in an attempt to shut down production in illegal Chinese ‘factories’, which have flooded the European market.

One of the primary arguments for legalization has been that regularizing a product puts it up for scrutiny by having to follow guidelines and regulations that ensure quality, virtually eliminating the market for synthetic drugs.

 

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