Malta celebrates the opening of its first legal cannabis club

Malta has achieved a milestone for cannabis users and activists, as the first legal cannabis club in the country has opened its doors to registered members. The club, which obtained clearance from the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC) to grow and distribute cannabis to adult members, is the outcome of a long and challenging process that started with the legalisation of recreational cannabis in 2021.

The club is one of the 26 groups that applied for cannabis club licences from ARUC, but the only one that has successfully passed all the mandatory laboratory testing of its products. This ensures that the cannabis sold by the club is free from harmful contaminants and of good quality.

The club offers its members a safe and legal alternative to the black market, where cannabis users are exposed to risks and uncertainties. By joining the club, members can cut off ties with the criminal underworld and buy their cannabis from a trusted source.

How the cannabis club model works

The cannabis club model is based on the principle of self-regulation and collective cultivation. The club is a non-profit organisation that operates under the supervision of ARUC. It has to abide by strict rules and regulations, such as:

  • Having a maximum of 50 members, who have to be Maltese citizens or residents, aged 21 or over, and registered with ARUC.
  • Growing a maximum of one cannabis plant per member, with a limit of 50 plants per club, in a designated and secure area.
  • Selling a maximum of 7 grams of cannabis per week per member, at a price that covers the costs of production and operation, but does not generate profit.
  • Keeping records of the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of cannabis, and submitting them to ARUC on a regular basis.
  • Providing information and education to members on the responsible use of cannabis and its potential risks and benefits.

The club model aims to create a regulated and transparent market for cannabis, where users can exercise their right to use the plant without harming themselves or others. It also aims to reduce the demand for illicit cannabis and the associated social and health problems.

The future of cannabis regulation in Malta

The opening of the first cannabis club is a significant milestone in Malta’s road to regulate recreational cannabis, which started with an electoral pledge made by the Labour Party in 2017. The reform, piloted by Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli, has been met with mixed reactions from different sectors of society.

While some have welcomed the reform as a progressive and pragmatic step, others have expressed concerns about the potential negative impacts of cannabis use on public health, safety, and morality. Some have also criticised the reform for being too restrictive and not addressing the needs and preferences of all cannabis users.

As more clubs come on stream and the legal market develops, ARUC will have to monitor and evaluate the situation closely, and propose any changes or amendments to the law or regulations as necessary. ARUC will also have to ensure that the cannabis clubs comply with the rules and standards, and that they do not engage in any illegal or unethical activities.

The cannabis reform is an ongoing and dynamic process that requires constant dialogue and collaboration between the government, the cannabis clubs, the cannabis users, and the general public. By doing so, Malta can create a balanced and effective regulatory framework that respects the rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders.

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