The president of one of Malta’s first cannabis associations used the substance to help him cope with ADHD and get a degree in computer science, he told Times of Malta.
Kenneth Ellul, whose association was one of the first two to be granted an operational licence this month, said he will be ready to start selling cannabis in January.
He was inspired to start KDD Society after his own experience with cannabis.
"I have a mild case of ADHD [Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder],” he said, but cannabis had helped him focus while studying for his degree.
After completing a BSC in computer science at the University of Malta, Ellul decided to pursue his passion for the plant further, completing courses abroad in medical cannabis cultivation.
“Then when the law changed, it [selling for recreational use] seemed like the best job you could have,” the 27-year-old said.
The association – which he will run as part of a team of four – was granted the operational licence earlier this month and has since started growing five strains of cannabis in preparation for opening.
They are growing close to 200 plants to be ready to sell at their premises in Attard next year, which, as a medium-sized association, will be able to accept up to 250 members, he said.
'None have been signed up so far. He said the two-year process leading to being granted the license was challenging. “It was a hard and stressful process for sure,” he said.
“There were very rigorous procedures but to be finally granted a license feels very rewarding... it was worth it, it feels great.”
When Malta became the first European country to legalise the drug in December 2021, the government said it would mean people would not have to resort to the black market.
The opposition and drug addiction organisations such as Caritas argued it would normalise drug abuse.
Ellul argues that people have been using cannabis in Malta for "a long time” and that associations like his are a safe alternative to the black market.
He noted that due to cannabis' low profit margins on the illegal market, drug dealers were likely to promote harder drugs instead.
As part of the onboarding process under government regulations, prospective members will be required to present an ID card and take part in an introductory interview about their cannabis use.
They will also be asked to sign a membership agreement and pay an annual fee, part of which will be reimbursed through the provision of cannabis, explained Ellul.
According to ARUC regulations, while members will be allowed to purchase cannabis from associations, they will not be allowed to consume it on the premises.
Associations are also prohibited from allowing the consumption of alcohol.
With cannabis associations prohibited from advertising their services, Ellul was reluctant to be photographed for this article or to allow pictures of his Attard premises.
He is hopeful news of KDD will spread by word of mouth, an approach he said he “strongly believes in”.
“We want to form a community and not just have a retailer-based approach,” Ellul said.