The Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC) has yet to start issuing licences to associations wanting to sell the substance, months after a law legalising them was introduced. 

New rules on cannabis use came into force in December after parliament approved a new law aimed at further decriminalising the substance.

The new law allows for the creation of cannabis associations for those smokers who might be unwilling or unable to grow the plant at home.

They can join such associations, which cultivate cannabis to distribute among members, and buy their supply from there.

But, eight months since the law was introduced, the ARUC has yet to start issuing licences for these clubs - or even publish regulatory guidelines which such clubs must adhere to. 

Authority chairperson Mariella Dimech said that the process is “delicate” and “cannot be done overnight”.

“No licences have been issued yet, however, we are working hard to establish a sound regulatory and monitoring system for when the applications are out,” she said.

According to Dimech, a baseline study on the general population has been conducted and its results “are the foundation on which the authority will establish the necessary criteria for non-profit organisations to be able to have a licence”.

No licences have been issued yet, however, we are working hard to establish a sound regulatory and monitoring system for when the applications are out

The chairperson did not reply to questions on whether any applications have been submitted by clubs keen on getting the licence to operate. She also did not say when the authority would start issuing the licences.

“This is a delicate process that cannot be done overnight. One must also point out that the other aspects of the law regulating the use of cannabis have already been implemented,” she said.

“For instance, the law makes it possible for those who use cannabis to legally grow up to four plants for personal use.

“Users are also allowed to carry up to 7g of cannabis in public without fear of arrest even though smoking in public remains prohibited.

“The government together with the Authority for the Regulation of Cannabis [sic] are constantly working to ensure that the spirit of the law is upheld,” Dimech added.

How will the associations be run?

The so-called associations must be run as non-profit, with individuals as opposed to companies, registered as their owners.

Each association cannot have more than 500 members and must be located at least 250 metres away from schools or youth centres.

The associations also cannot advertise their services or have visible cannabis signs or markings.

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