Malta to become first European country to legalize marijuana, president to sign bill this week

(AFP) – The Maltese parliament in southern Europe today passed a bill to legalize marijuana, which when signed by the president this week is expected to become the first country in Europe to allow individuals to grow and use cannabis on a limited basis.

The bill, backed by Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela’s Labor Party, allows adults to possess up to 7 grams of marijuana and grow up to four plants at home.

The bill, which passed the Maltese parliament with 36 votes in favor and 27 against, would also allow managed nonprofit associations of up to 500 people to grow marijuana for the exclusive use of their members.

Abella said in a parliamentary debate last month, “We are dealing with the problem through legislation that takes a harm reduction approach with controls so that people don’t have to buy cannabis from the black market.”

Luxembourg announced a similar proposal just weeks ago; Germany’s new government plans to legalize recreational marijuana; Spain and the Netherlands tolerate personal cultivation and consumption to varying degrees; and the Czech Republic and Portugal have both decriminalized personal use of marijuana.