On 4 October 2021 the equalities minister in Malta presented a bill to change laws on cannabis. This follows the government’s election manifesto of 2017, which pledged to launch a debate on recreational cannabis, and a white paper, published in March 2021, that reflected the ‘government’s vision for a fairer legal system for responsible cannabis users’.
The proposed bill would allow adult residents to grow up to 4 cannabis plants per household if away from public view, and to possess up to 50 grams of the drug at home. In public, cannabis smoking would still be subject to a fine of up to 235 euro and possession of the drug would be limited to 7 grams. Lesser cannabis offences would be dealt with by a justice commissioner, and underage offenders would receive a care plan. Anyone who currently has a criminal record for cannabis possession would be able to request it to be removed from their record.
The bill would also allow those unable or unwilling to grow their own cannabis to source the drug in a legal manner by enabling individuals to form non-profit cannabis growing clubs. These clubs would be allowed to produce cannabis and distribute up to a maximum of 7 grams per day and 50 grams per month to each member. Each association would be allowed a maximum of 500 members and could only store up to 500 grams of dried cannabis at any point in time. All cannabis associations would have to register with, and report to, the new Responsible Use of Cannabis Authority. According to the bill, individuals cannot be members of more than one club, though membership lists will remain anonymous.
The government presentation, and the minister’s stated reasons for policy change, can be found in this article.
On 22 October 2021, five ministers (1) of the Luxembourg government announced a ‘package of measures regarding the problem of drug-related crime’. This included an update on the progress toward the system of controlled cannabis supply through legal sales to residents, which had featured in the government coalition agreement of 2018.
The ministers reported that progress on the system had been delayed due to the pandemic but also for diplomatic reasons and because of international constraints. Nevertheless, they announced that they would now be moving forward with a proposal to permit the cultivation of up to 4 cannabis plants per household, from seeds (not cuttings), which would allow adult residents to consume cannabis at home. According to the proposal, consuming cannabis in public would still be prohibited but there would be lower penalties for offences involving the possession of up to 3 grams of the drug; the criminal fine which currently ranges between 251 and 2 500 euro is now proposed to be reduced to 25-500 euro. Further, there would be the possibility of a warning with a penalty of 145 euro.
The new bill is planned to be introduced to the parliament (Chamber of Deputies) at the start of 2022.