This story originally appeared on Benzinga
Malta is poised to become the first country in Europe to legalize the cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use.
The first country? What about the Netherlands?
While the Netherlands, and especially Amsterdam, is most commonly associated with cannabis consumption in Europe, marijuana possession and trade are technically illegal there although the Dutch government’s relaxed attitude is well-known.
Proposed rules in Malta
Under Malta’s proposed bill, possession of up to 7g of cannabis, home cultivation of up to four plants and storing up to 50g of dried marijuana will be legally permitted for those aged 18 and above. Those found in possession of up to 28 grams, on the other hand, will be obliged to pay a €50-€100 fine but will not be subjected to a criminal record.
The underaged found in possession will not be arrested but will be obliged to go before a justice commission for a recommended care plan. Consuming weed around children is punishable by a €300-€500 fine.
The legislation was approved by Malta’s Parliament on Tuesday and is expected to soon be signed into law by the president.
Owen Bonnici, the minister responsible for the program, told the Guardian that the Maltese government does not want to encourage the use of drugs, but that there’s no scientific proof that marijuana usage leads to abuse of more dangerous substances.
“There is a wave of understanding now that the hard-fist approach against cannabis users was disproportionate, unjust and it was rendering a lot of suffering to people who are leading exemplary lives,” Bonnici said. “But the fact that they make use on a personal basis of cannabis is putting them in the jaws of criminality.”
He added: “I’m very glad that Malta will be the first country which will put words in statute in a comprehensive manner with a regulatory authority.”
Recent cannabis reforms in Europe
It looks like the cannabis reform wave is starting across Europe, a move that was inspired last December when the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs made a final decision to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
In October Luxembourg announced it will become the first country in Europe to legalize growing weed for personal use, while more recently Germany revealed its plans to legalize marijuana – a move that could bring $3.85 billion in annual tax revenue.
So, Europe…who’s next?