If you are trying to buy cannabis legally, you are going to have to wait.

Within less than two months of opening, Malta’s three operating cannabis associations have already reached capacity and four others waiting for final approval before opening are taking pre-membership details.

When a Times of Malta reporter posed as a cannabis user and tried to join an association this week, all said they were full up. Even once you’re in, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the cannabis you signed up for, with one association member complaining that product “tends to run out quickly”.

Parliament was told earlier this month that 750 people have signed up as cannabis association members so far.

The three cannabis associations open are Nege, Ta’ Zelli and KDD. The other four registered associations are Pollen Theory, Northern Lights, Sprawt and South Flowers.

The service is very good and without a doubt beats the black-market option- User of one of the cannabis associations

All five clubs contacted by Times of Malta said new users were being offered to be added to a waiting list. 

According to the guidelines for licensing, associations can cater for up to 500 members, with larger associations paying higher fees. However, the three clubs currently operating are category 3 clubs, meaning they can only supply to up to 250 members.

Each association differs slightly from the other. Membership fees range from €5 a month to €35 for three months, which includes two grams of cannabis for good measure.

The range of cannabis also varies from one association to another. Some associations only have two strains of cannabis available, while others have up to eight. Strains vary in strength, which is measured by the amount of THC they contain. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the substance associated with the ‘high’ cannabis users experience.

Pricing also varies: one club offered strains for €8 a gram, while another sold their product for €12.

Product variety remains limited, at least for now. There are no edibles, oils or other exotic products. But early adopters seem happy.

“The service is very good and without a doubt beats the black-market option,” an association user who spoke to Times of Malta on condition of anonymity said. “In terms of quality and price, the cannabis from the association is miles ahead of that on the black market.”

When one imagines a cannabis club, they might be thinking of the Amsterdam model, where tourists can visit a variety of cannabis coffeeshops and enjoy anything from a joint to an edible THC treat.

Malta is not the Amsterdam of the Mediterranean.

The Maltese model is closer to a pharmacy than it is a café. Associations are hidden in plain sight. No advertising or symbols relating to the drug are allowed. The only thing indicating that the address is correct is a small sign giving the basic details of the association.

Furthermore, these are not social clubs, where one can catch up over a joint with fellow members. No cannabis can be consumed on the premises. Members buy their share, pay and leave.

“You can’t even smell the cannabis. The only time you might notice you are near a cannabis association is on a Saturday morning, when a line of cannabis users suddenly appears on your pavement,” a member said.

Members can buy up to 7g of cannabis within 24 hours, with a maximum of 50 grams per month. The law also allows users to carry up to 7g of the substance on them without fear of prosecution.

To join and buy cannabis in Malta, you must be a Maltese resident and at least 18 years old. It is strictly not available for tourists.

The associations are non-profits and their sole purpose must be to cultivate and distribute cannabis for their adult members only.

Three associations are open, four will soon be and many more are waiting in the wings. With Facebook groups like Malta Cannabis Social Club having over 9,500 members, it appears there is still plenty of demand to be satisfied.

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