Law

malta legalize cannabis

Malta to legalize cannabis for personal use in a European first

The move by the EU’s smallest member state is expected to be followed by reform in the rest of the continent in 2022

Malta will this week become the first European country to legalize the cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use, propelling Luxembourg into the post as the continent undergoes a wave of changes in its drug laws.

A limited amount

Possession of up to seven grams of the drug will be legal for people aged 18 and over, and it will be permissible to grow up to four cannabis plants at home, with up to 50g of the dried product available for storage.

A vote in favor of the legislation in Malta’s parliament on Tuesday will be followed by the president signing the law into law by the weekend, Owen Bonnici, the minister responsible, told the Guardian.

The decision in Malta, the EU’s smallest member state, is likely to be followed by a Europe-wide reform in 2022. Germany recently announced the creation of a legally regulated market, following announcements by the Swiss, Luxembourg and Dutch governments. A referendum in Italy is planned, while Canada, Mexico and 18 U.S. states have already passed similar legislation.

Boris Johnson’s British government, on the other hand, has been accused of adopting a Richard Nixon-style “war on drugs” approach after maintaining its hard-line approach to cannabis use and making criminal sanctions for class A drug users a central plank of its recently released 10-year strategy.

Promoting recreational drugs

Bonnici said his government did not want to encourage the use of recreational drugs, but that there was no evidence to support the argument that cannabis use was in itself a gateway to harder substances.

He said, “There is a groundswell of understanding now that the hard-line approach against cannabis users was disproportionate, unfair, and gave a lot of pain to people who lead exemplary lives. But the fact that they use cannabis as a personal matter puts them in the jaws of crime.

He added: “I am very happy that Malta is the first country to put words in a law in a comprehensive way with a regulatory authority.

The change in approach by a number of European governments follows a UN decision last December to remove cannabis from a list of drugs designated as potentially addictive and dangerous, with little or no therapeutic use.

The Maltese approach aims to avoid criminalizing all cannabis use while regulating to ensure risk reduction, Bonnici said.

Possession of up to 28 grams will result in a fine of €50 to €100 but no criminal record. Those under 18 who are found in possession will go before a justice commission for recommendation of a care plan rather than being arrested. Those who consume cannabis in front of a child will face fines of between €300 and €500.

No private cultivation allowed

Beyond allowing people to grow plants at home, albeit out of public view, it will be legal for non-profit cannabis clubs to grow the drug for distribution to their members, similar to the organizations tolerated in Spain and the Netherlands.

Club membership will be limited to 500 people and only up to 7 grams per day can be distributed to each person, with a maximum of 50 grams per month. The organizations, which cannot be located within 250 meters of a school, club or youth center, can also distribute up to 20 cannabis seeds to each member each month.

Bonnici said his government has had a long debate about whether to put controls on the strength of cannabis that can be grown and used, measured by the level of the key psychoactive, or mood-altering, ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH).

He said, “We had a huge discussion internally about this. And we concluded that if a limit [can be set] on the strength of cannabis, the THC levels, you will create a new market for the black market. What we need to do is educate people and inform them day by day.”

The Netherlands is perhaps the European country most associated with a relaxed attitude toward cannabis use. However, possession and trade are technically illegal there. Instead, the government has a gedoogbeleid, a “tolerance policy,” under which use is widely accepted within limits. A trial is planned in which production of the drug will be regulated.

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Republican lawmakers introduce bill to legalize cannabis

Republican lawmakers introduce bill to legalize cannabis

Mostly lead by Democrats until now, cannabis legalization now has consensus on both sides of the political aisle in the United States.

Several Republican members of Congress on Monday introduced a bill to legalize cannabis at the federal level, in response to the ambitious reform proposals underway led by Democrats and the GOP’s scaled-back cannabis decriminalization legislation.

Republican Representative Nancy Mace is carrying the States Reform Act with a handful of Republican co-sponsors. The legislation seeks to end federal prohibition of cannabis a while taking specific steps to ensure that businesses in existing state markets can continue to operate unimpeded by changing federal rules.

Unlike more modest measures previously championed by some Republicans, this legislation represents an attempt to bridge a partisan divide. It does so by incorporating some fairness provisions such as expunging the criminal records of people with non-violent cannabis-related convictions and imposing an excise tax, the revenue from which would support community reinvestment, law enforcement, and Small Business Administration (SBA) activities.

“This bill supports veterans, law enforcement, farmers, businesses, people with serious illnesses, and is good for criminal justice reform,” Mace said in a statement Monday. “The state reform bill takes special care to keep Americans and their children safe while ending federal interference with state cannabis laws.”

“Washington needs to provide a framework that allows states to make their own decisions about cannabis moving forward,” the congresswoman said. “This bill does that.”

Outline of the bill

Under the legalization bill carried by Nancy Mace, the federal government treats cannabis the same as alcohol. This would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, with retroactive effects for those previously convicted.

Previous federal cannabis-related convictions would have to be expunged within one year. Individuals affiliated with cartels or who have been convicted of DUI, however, would not be eligible for this relief. Mace’s office estimates that approximately 2,600 people will be released from federal incarceration under this provision.

The bill calls for a 3 percent federal excise tax on cannabis, significantly lower than the taxes proposed in the Democrat-led cannabis bills.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade (TTB) – renamed the Office of Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Tax and Trade – would be the primary regulator of the cannabis market for interstate and international commerce. The agency would create a cannabis tracking and tracing system, and federal officials would be authorized to issue product packaging and labeling requirements.

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulatory authority would be limited, with the goal that it would have no more control over cannabis than it does over alcohol, except for medical cannabis. The agency would be able to implement dosage limits (e.g., 10mg THC per serving, and no more than 10 servings per package), certify state-designated medical cannabis products, and approve and regulate cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals, but would not be able to prohibit the use of cannabis or its derivatives in non-medicinal applications, such as state-designated medical cannabis products, dietary supplements, foods, beverages, non-medicinal topicals or cosmetics.

Enforcement authority would be transferred from the Drug Enforcement Administration to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, Firearms and Explosives.

Raw cannabis would be considered an agricultural commodity regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The plant would be treated like “alcoholic beverage crops” such as barley, hops and grains.

A federal license would be required to operate a cannabis business, and certain prior cannabis convictions could make a person ineligible to obtain that license.

The legislation would bring state-licensed cannabis operators into the federal system to ensure continued access to patients and encourage participation in the legal market.

Revenue from federal marijuana taxes would go to a newly created Law Enforcement Retraining and Successful Second Chances Fund and distributed to various veterans’ mental health programs, state opioid addiction programs or youth cannabis prevention efforts.

A national age limit of 21 would be set for legal cannabis products, which would be enforced by withholding funds from any state seeking to lower that age. This limit would not apply to medical cannabis. Advertisements targeted at minors or misleading would be prohibited.

The Treasury Department would be required to conduct periodic studies of the characteristics of the cannabis industry and make recommendations for improving the regulation and tax administration of cannabis. The Bureau of Labor Statistics would also be responsible for regularly reporting data on ownership and employment in the cannabis industry.

Military veterans would not be able to be discriminated against in hiring for federal jobs because of their cannabis use, and Department of Veterans Affairs physicians would be allowed to make medical cannabis recommendations.…

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