The Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, said during a visit to the United States that Maltese companies plan to produce and export hemp medical products worth € 1 billion over the next three years.
Malta Cannabis Industry Development
In an interview with TVM, Muscat said: “Malta will begin exporting medical hemp in the first quarter of 2020. According to experts, the volume of product deliveries abroad will exceed 1 billion euros in the first three years of operation. Hemp enterprises will create 900 jobs, in addition, we can attract new companies to the market. Foreign investors show an increased interest in innovation. In Canada, this is medical cannabis, and in the USA, blockchain. ”
The state-owned enterprise Malta Enterprise, which supports local businesses, has sent 20 commercial firms a letter of intent to invest in the production and export of medical cannabis. According to Muscat, the government will be able to attract foreign capital, so in the future, the number of hemp companies that received investments will increase.
Legal Status of Cannabis in Malta
In 2015, the country’s authorities decriminalized possession of marijuana weighing up to 3.5 grams. Citizens who have committed this offense for the first time are punished with a fine of 50 to 100 euros. Cases of repeat offenders are examined by the Rehabilitation Council for Criminals Arrested under Narcotic Articles. Most often, people are sent for compulsory treatment.
In March 2018, the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, signed a law on the legalization of medical hemp. Earlier (in 2015), the government authorized the use of the Sativex oral spray, which contains THC and CBD, for medicinal purposes. However, patients who want a cannabis prescription have two problems.
Firstly, the normative act does not establish a list of diseases that give the right to acquire hemp. Therefore, doctors refuse to give prescriptions for cannabinoids to many patients. The second hurdle is the high cost of cannabis-based medicines. Maltese have to pay 70 euros for examining the application, 20 euros for receiving a prescription, 240 euros for a 15-day course of treatment and then renew the prescription for 70 euros. In case the patient smokes 1 gram of marijuana per day, the cost of therapy with all the additional costs is about 415 euros per month.
In addition, officials have limited the number of people who may have access to legal hemp. Recipes are not given to people treated for drug addiction, as well as to Maltese with an outstanding criminal record. In some cases, government authorities do not approve the extension of a cannabis permit until the applicant cancels the driver’s license. Therefore, patients are forced to make a choice: take cannabinoids or drive a car.