Updated on January 22, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
New medical marijuana legislation is still being reviewed by the Maltese Parliament. However, it’s expected to pass sometime in early 2018. When it does, it will replace the country’s current medical cannabis laws, which are highly ineffective. Like many other European nations, Maltese patients do not need a medical marijuana card. Instead, they must visit a government-approved physician for a prescription.
But, it’s so hard to get a prescription for cannabis-based medication that no patients have joined the current medical marijuana program. Instead, they prefer to obtain marijuana illegally and risk low-quality medicine or legal repercussions. Under the new system, cannabis advocates are hoping the government will cut out the bureaucratic red tape, allowing qualified patients to receive a prescription more easily.
Although it’s a small island located in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta has a thriving black market weed business. Plants are grown within the country, and resin is often imported from northern African countries. Even though it’s illegal, many patients prefer to purchase their cannabis this way because it’s easier than trying to meet the current medical marijuana program’s qualifications.
Once the new system is introduced, officials hope patients will turn away from illegal pot and instead use government-sanctioned medical marijuana to treat their conditions. Becoming a medical marijuana patient in Malta will have many distinct advantages, such as:
Although the country has allowed patients to receive prescriptions for Sativex since 2015, the restrictive limitations make it next to impossible. Plus, the cannabis-based medication can only treat muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis.
New legislation will allow patients to obtain a prescription from any doctor registered with the Maltese Medical Council. There is a guidebook physicians will have to follow which lays out how the new medical marijuana system works, as well as who qualifies.
Despite the changes, smoking raw cannabis will continue to be illegal — the only legal cannabis prescriptions will be for oils derived from the plant.
Once a patient has been issued a prescription from their physician, they will be placed on the patient registry, a list monitored by the country’s Superintendent of Health. Because of this, many advocates for improved medical marijuana legislation are afraid the new system will be just as restrictive as the old. The registry will keep tabs on every aspect of a patient’s prescription, including:
Under the current medical cannabis system, only doctors approved by the Maltese government can write Sativex prescriptions. However, the new legislation will lighten up on these restrictions and hopefully give more patients the opportunity to receive cannabis medication. Any doctor registered with the Medical Council will be able to prescribe marijuana, as long as they follow the rules laid out in the government-issued guidebook.
Malta’s medical marijuana program will fall under the direct oversight of the Maltese Ministry for Health. After the new legislation is passed in Parliament, be sure to check out their website for more information.
If you’re interested in international cannabis laws in Malta or beyond, be sure to check back with MarijuanaDoctors.com. As legislation changes, we’ll update our website to stay current on what’s going on in the world of medical marijuana. We also have a handy resource guide with tons of additional information you’re sure to find useful.