Malta on Tuesday legalized the cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis in private homes and its use for recreational purposes in the private sphere, a first in the European Union (EU).

Several countries in the European Union have already decriminalized the use and possession of cannabis for private consumption in the last 20 years, but the laws are sometimes somewhat confusing and in practice it is only tolerated.

In Malta, the reform, which was voted on Tuesday in the Parliament of the small Mediterranean island, authorizes the possession of a maximum of seven grams of cannabis and the cultivation of four plants per person over 18 years of age.

More than seven, and up to 28 grams, the holder risks being fined 100 euros (about 113 dollars). What’s more consumption in public is prohibited, an offense that may carry a fine of 235 euros, as well as doing it before a minor, fined between 300 and 500 euros.

The text also provides for the creation of non-profit associations allowing the production and sale of cannabis to their members, a maximum of 500 in each.

The Labor Prime Minister, Robert Abela, asked the deputies of his party to vote in favor of this initiative.

“We are legislating to respond to a problem, with a risk reduction approach (linked to cannabis use), regulating the sector so that people do not have to resort to the black market,” he advocated last month before parliament.

Abela also stressed that he wanted to avoid parents the “trauma” of seeing their children appear in court for having smoked a cannabis cigarette, while the pressure on traffickers is maintained.

“Drug trafficking will continue to be illegal,” he said.

The Nationalist Party spoke out against it, since it considers that the reform will “normalize and increase drug use” in the country.

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The implementation and compliance with this regulation will be supervised by a new official body, the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis.

Malta, a traditionally conservative country on social issues, had already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2015 and three years later adopted a legal framework, whose objective is to become a center for the production of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

Luxembourg had announced in October its intention to authorize the cultivation of marijuana in homes and its consumption in the private sphere, while the new German government considers legalizing it for recreational use.

In the Netherlands, the possession, consumption and sale of up to five grams of cannabis has been tolerated since 1976 in the “coffee shops“While Spain admits production for personal consumption, while its trade and consumption in public are prohibited.

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