Updated 6.29pm

Cannabis users will be allowed to grow their own plants at home and legally carry up to 7 grams of the drug for personal use, under a proposed reform unveiled by the government on Tuesday.

The proposals, which are to be opened up to public consultation, also open the door to creating a legalised market for cannabis flower and seeds, with Prime Minister Robert Abela saying the government would be listening to proposals about how the drug could be sold legally.  

Prime Minister Robert Abela said he wanted the white paper to serve as a “template” that other countries seeking to legislate for responsible cannabis consumption could emulate.

The government is proposing:

  • Possession of up to 7 grams of cannabis for personal use will completely legal.

  • Possession between 7 grams and 28 grams for personal use will be subject to a fine before a drugs tribunal.

  • Personal possession of cannabis will no longer be an arrestable offence and anyone caught with such amounts will not be interrogated by the police.

  • Individuals can grow up to four cannabis plants for personal use at home, provided the plants cannot be seen from outside their home.

  • Anyone with a criminal record for simple cannabis possession will have their record wiped clean.

  • Cannabis consumption will be forbidden in public areas, against a fine of €233.

  • Creating a legal way in which users can buy cannabis bud and seeds. 

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Abela said the reforms were aimed at tackling a reality that “has been with us for years but which nobody addressed”. 

“I have always been clear about this: it is unacceptable that a person caught with a joint for personal use ends up at the police headquarters under arrest and then is charged in court,” Abela said. 

Reforms introduced by the government in the past, he said, were clearly not enough and this resulted in the black market flourishing. 

The Labour government had introduced a new set of drug laws in 2015, with simple possession of small quantities of drugs no longer being punishable by imprisonment but by a fine. 

Ahead of the 2017 general election, the Labour Party said that if it was re-elected, it would set the ball rolling for a national discussion on the legalisation of cannabis.

On when the new rules were to come into force, Abela said he could not provide exact timelines just yet but assured there would not be “dragging of feet”.

Abela said the government was open to suggestions about how the legal sale of cannabis could occur. 

“We want a regulated source where people can buy cannabis and its seeds. I believe this will be key to eradicating the black market, together with continued enforcement of existing laws,” Abela said. 

Penalties for cannabis trafficking will remain unchanged. 

Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar, who spearheaded work on cannabis reform when she served as junior minister for reforms, said the proposals would create a fairer system for responsible cannabis users. 

She urged people to send in their ideas about the proposed reforms. 

Public consultation on the proposed reforms will be open until May 11. Proposals can be sent to publicconsultation.mjeg@gov.mt

Read the White Paper in the PDF below 

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