In a significant policy change, the government has decided to allow large-scale cultivation of cannabis plants, including the selling of flowers (buds), the Times of Malta has learnt.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had declared in Parliament that “only small-batch cultivation for research purposes” would be allowed. However, in a public announcement, an Australian company setting up shop in Malta, MGC Pharma, declared it had been awarded a 4,000 square metre site by the government to build and operate a cultivation and medical cannabis facility.

“The contract [with Malta Enterprise] provides MGC with an attractive new cultivation site in the EU, completing the board’s strategy to operate a fully-vertically-integrated medical cannabis operation in Europe,” company co-founder and chief executive officer Roby Zomer said.

Read: Malta Enterprise approves five medical cannabis investments

He said that, apart from cultivating the raw plant, “the contract [with the government] allowed the company to also sell medical cannabis flowers in the region, including Germany.

The Times of Malta sought to find out where the new facility and cultivation fields would be situated but questions sent to Economy Minister Chris Cardona remained unanswered. A spokeswoman would only say two sites were being considered by the government, both in the south. The newspaper is informed that one of the sites lies in the Bulebel area, which Żejtun farmers are resisting.

The spokeswoman rejected the argument that the government changed its policy on cannabis cultivation.

Watch: ‘Marijuana use is a personal choice’ – Chris Fearne

“Minister Cardona had stressed that no cultivation will be permitted merely for cultivation’s sake,” she said.

“The proposed law, as agreed to by both government and Opposition MPs at committee stage, provides that cultivation can be carried out as part of the production process and for scientific research purposes and strictly in a designated industrial area,” she added.

Shadow social policy minister Claudio Grech had said the Opposition was against the cultivation of cannabis plants as it could offer many possibilities of abuse.

When the law was presented in Parliament last February, the Prime Minster said large-scale cultivation was unfeasible and that he expected companies to import pre-processed cannabis oils for further refinement and preparation here, then exporting the product to the European market.

He had later said that only few plants would be allowed to be used, restricted only to research and development.

 

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