The history and evolution of CBD in Malta is very interesting. At the top of this page we explain the current situation and legal status of CBD in Malta. If you are interested in the history and evolution of the law, please scroll further down the page.
What Is The Current Legal Status Of CBD In Malta?
CBD and it’s related oils, vapes, tinctures and capsules are currently not legally allowed to be sold or imported into Malta unless for medical patients. There are a number of pharmacies that can dispense CBD products to medical patients that have been given a prescription by their doctor. All stages of the process (prescribing, importing and dispensing) are strictly controlled.
It is worth being clear, that prescriptions are made for people with severe pain management issues that they need help with. Typically these are people suffering from a major disease – such as cancer or leukemia – who are undergoing regular and painful treatment. CBD is not currently available in Malta on prescription for people with minor issues that are harder to prove, and it is not available for any sort of recreational purpose.
Is It Legal To Grow CBD Plants In Malta?
The short answer is no, as this is written in late 2019 it is currently illegal to grow cannabis, for sale, in Malta. The current law allows just one plant to be grown for personal use. Growing any more than one plant could result in a minimum prison sentence of six months, if prosecuted. However, as announced in December 2019, there are plans to reduce the punishment for growing more than one plant for personal use.
The government of Joseph Muscat has been quite clear that they plan to create legislation that enables an entire ecosystem for medical cannabis to exist in Malta and that apart of that would be growing for medical research and development purposes. If that is to become a reality, then it is only a matter of time until it is legal to for plants to be grown in Malta.
However, it is worth making clear that the government is moving towards this direction for medical research. If the Maltese government follows the lead of other countries, this will be a highly regulated and very controlled sector. This means that it will still not be legal to grow any of these plants at home, for personal use, or recreationally. That would require legislation that goes much further and is much more liberal than is planned. Ultimately, this may happen, but do not expect it to be legal for many years to come.
How Did Maltese Law Evolve?
2015: The Drug Dependence Act
The goal of Malta’s 2015 Drug Dependence Act was to begin the process of enabling patients to be prescribed and use medical cannabis products for pain relief.
As Dr Chris Fearne, Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health explained, the 2015 law was designed to be strict and to have no loopholes. Medical cannabis was allowed for pain relief for very specific conditions under very controlled circumstances. The result was that medical cannabis was not used. A total of just two doctors undertook the process to be able to prescribe treatment. In total just four patients were recommended, but ultimately none were actually treated.
This lead Malta’s government to realise that the law was too strict and if medical cannabis was to help local pain sufferers, new legislation was required.
The 2015 law also changed Malta’s laws relating to possession of cannabis (not just the medical kind). The headline was that “simple possession” remained an “arrestable offence” but with the intention that it enables the fight against the drug trade and is not a way to pick on individuals that smoke. There were some intricacies to understand, so we recommend that you visit the Malta Independent where the situation is explained here in substantial depth.
2018: The Production of Cannabis For Research Purposes Act
At the time of Dr Fearne’s 2019 presentation, he explained that there were now thirty-two doctors that had taken the necessary steps to prescribe medical cannabis products to patients. So far, they had prescribed to more than four hundred patients and only five had been refused treatment on medical grounds. While this is clearly and amazing transformation, Dr Fearne noted that approximately ninety-five percent of Maltese doctors do not participate.
2019: EFSA And Novel Foods
Until January 2019 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) considered any food that was not consumed regularly before May 1997 to be a novel food and there are very specific regulations in place for foods or substances that fall into this category. The EFSA argues that CBD is an extraction of cannabis sativa that was not used in foodstuffs prior to 1997.
CBD was allowed to be used in foods without this novel food classification as long as the concentration of CBD was not higher the level in the source material. However, on 17th January 2019 a new entry was made for CBD that changed their classification. It “had not been demonstrated” that products containing cannabinoids had a history of consumption predating 1997.
This change meant that the status of CBD went from being permitted for food in the EU to being an unathorised novel food. This put the decision as to whether to allow or block CBD into the hands of individual EU Member States.