Malta’s legal cannabis clubs could provide relief for struggling patients

Malta’s legal cannabis clubs could provide relief for struggling patients
Cannabis Health News

Malta legalised medical cannabis in 2018, but according to advocates the ecosystem is prohibitive and focused on industry profit over patient welfare. Could soon-to-open legal cannabis social clubs provide a trusted alternative? Malta made waves in 2021 when it became the first EU country to legalise recreational cannabis for adult use. Under the law, adults are allowed to carry up to seven grams of cannabis and grow four plants for personal use.  But rather than purchasing cannabis products through dispensaries or pharmacies, consumers are required to join non-profit cannabis cooperatives. These cannabis social clubs have yet to materialise and consumers interested in legal cannabis outside of the medical community will need to wait until next year. The Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC), established to oversee recreational cannabis legalisation, will begin accepting applications for prospective cannabis co-ops starting February 2023. Medical cannabis has been legal in Malta since the passing of the Drug Dependence (Treatment not Imprisonment) (Amendment) Act, 2018. Malta’s medical community grew to around 400 patients in 2019, and is now reported to be more than 1,300. The law states, however, that practitioners are only allowed to prescribe medical cannabis if they consider there to be ‘no viable alternative’ and accessing medical cannabis seems like an uphill battle. Speaking to Cannabis Health, Andrew Bonello, president of Releaf Malta,  community non-profit NGO advocating for a social, equitable approach to cannabis reform in the country, painted a stark picture of Malta’s medical cannabis ecosystem. Medical cannabis in Malta – more for profit than patients? Mr Bonello explains: “Patients need to declare that they have tried all other conventional medicine before applying for medicinal cannabis. “They need to obtain a narcotics control card, [which is a] permit to consume a narcotic medicine, as well as a prescription to access…

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