Malta has officially legalized medical cannabis and has applied to import 15 kilos of cannabis for medical purposes.
The amendments to the Drug Dependence Act (Treatment not Imprisonment) were enacted on the 26 March by Maltese parliament after its third and final reading.
Labor MP Stefan Zrinzo yesterday tweeted that the Committee for the Consideration of Bills has concluded the discussion leading to an Act for the production of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes.
Parliamentary Secretary for consumer protection, Deo Debattista also tweeted, saying that Malta has officially legalized medicinal cannabis after recognizing the therapeutic benefits of the plant.
The law will allow family doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to patients, who will be able to access non-smoking forms of medicine at pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription after a control card has been approved by the Superintendent of Public Health.
So far, three conditions are eligible to be treated by medicinal cannabis: chronic pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis and side effects of chemotherapy.
Malta Enterprise yesterday also approved five projects related to the production of medical cannabis with a total investment of €30 million, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Monday. The projects will create 185 new jobs.
Three of the projects are Canadian while the others are Australian and Israeli.
Minister Chris Cardona said the legislation was continuing to draw strong interest from investors and other applications for investment in Malta were being considered.
The new legislation was welcomed by pro-cannabis groups ReLeaf and Malta Cannabis Social Club, as well as medical clinics such as The Pain Clinic.
In a Facebook post, ‘Malta Cannabis Social Club’ said that “All forms of medical cannabis will be available, including the raw plant which can be vaporized or brewed in tea. Smoking is not recommended and is illegal. Anyone caught not using the medicine as prescribed may risk losing their control card and their approval to use medical cannabis”
In a statement, ReLeaf also welcomes the legalization. The organization said that Maltese citizens can now benefit from the therapeutic opportunities the cannabis plan offers in a relatively unrestricted manner.
“While there is space for further clarity on things such as the accurate labeling of THC vs. CBD, as well as the improvement of the necessary differentiation between THC/CBD medicine and CBD-only medicine, this is a positive step forward for the Maltese healthcare system on the whole,” ReLeaf said.
The organization further said that it was now essential that the government keeps the price of the medicine affordable for patients, and commits itself to putting patient health first and foremost with this new bill.
One issue with the bill is the restricted list of eligible conditions, according to ReLeaf. “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.”