Malta Becomes First EU Country to Legalize Cannabis

Lawmakers in Malta have approved the country’s cannabis legalization proposal, making it the first EU member nation to legalize adult-use cannabis.

Full story after the jump.

Malta’s parliament voted 36 to 27 on Tuesday to legalize cannabis, becoming the first European Union nation to fully pass the reforms, the BBC reports. Under the law, adults can legally possess up to seven grams of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants. Smoking cannabis in public and in front of children remains outlawed.

Equality Minister Owen Bonnici, who promoted the legislation, described the vote as “historic,” adding that it would keep cannabis consumers from criminal penalties and will “curb drug trafficking by making sure that [users] now have a safe and regularized way from where they can obtain cannabis,” the report says.

The law sets fines for individuals possessing more than seven grams in public but less than 28 grams up to 100 euros, 235 euros for smoking in public, and up to 500 euros for consuming cannabis in front of anyone under 18-years-old.

Minors caught with cannabis will be recommended a care or treatment plan as opposed to an arrest or criminal charges.

Under the plan, associations will be set up to distribute cannabis and cannabis seeds and individuals can only be part of one association, which supporters say will help regulate how much someone buys.

The reforms were opposed by Malta’s opposition Nationalist Party. In October, Bernard Grech, leader of the party, who initially supported the law, told the Times of Malta that it would “only lead to the strengthening of the illegal market, with organized crime taking advantage.” The party is urging Malta President George Vella not to sign the bill into law.

A similar plan was announced by E.U. nation Luxembourg in October and Germany’s coalition government last month indicated it plans to legalize cannabis and license dispensaries to conduct regulated sales.

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