Producers of medical marijuana in Malta will be exempt from existing drug laws that make it illegal to possess, cultivate and import cannabis, according to proposed legislation.
The proposed law will permit the industrial production of cannabis products for medical use, opening up a new economic sector.
Given that the raw materials used in the production of medical marijuana are currently illegal, the proposal ensures that licensed producers will not fall foul of the law when importing or handling fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plants or seeds and any other derivatives.
The exemption only applies to cannabis and not other drugs.
However, any entity or person wanting to produce medical marijuana will have to obtain a letter of intent from Malta Enterprise and a license from the Medicines Authority.
The producer will also have to comply with strict production and quality standards for the production of medicines set out at law.
The proposal makes it clear that if the producer abuses the license and engages in illegal activity, the exemption from the drug laws will no longer apply.
Furthermore, the cultivation, importation or processing of cannabis, or the trade in cannabis and, or any preparations intended for medicinal use is prohibited unless prior approvals, authorizations, licenses or permits are acquired.
The Bill was published after the government put forward the First Reading in Parliament.
The proposed law regulating the production of medicinal marijuana is unrelated to the separate discussion promoted by the government to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
The government has opted to move faster on facilitating the use and production of medicinal marijuana, on which there is widespread consensus, including in Parliament.