Updated on January 28, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Since 2015, Malta has had an ineffectual medical marijuana program in place. Because of massive restrictions and overbearing bureaucratic oversight, no patients are participating in this program to date. Many prefer to obtain their cannabis illegally, subjecting themselves to legal penalties and the dangers of black market weed.
However, Malta’s Parliament will soon pass a reformed law, which will give more patients access to cannabis medications. The program will still feature certain guidelines limiting who can receive medical marijuana.
Although no one has joined, there is a medical marijuana program already in place in Malta. However, only patients who visit a government-approved physician can join, and the only cannabis-based medication available is Sativex, which is mostly used to treat muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis.
In 2018, the Maltese government plans to introduce a more inclusive medical marijuana program. Under the oversight of the Ministry for Health, the government will release a guidebook doctors can use to prescribe cannabis medications. Although they have not yet specified which conditions qualify, those included will probably resemble the lists of other nations and have such disorders as cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain and so forth.
Under the old system, patients can only visit a government-approved physician to receive a prescription for Sativex. Because of limiting restrictions, no patients have taken advantage of the program. However, when the new law goes into effect, patients will be able to receive a cannabis prescription from their general practitioner, as long as they are registered with the Maltese Medical Council.
The physician will have to follow all criteria laid out in the government-issued guidebook, which will explain how the system works and specify who qualifies.
Raw cannabis buds will continue to be illegal under the new medical marijuana legislation. Instead, the Maltese government will allow companies within the country to produce safe, effective cannabis oil for medical use.
When patients receive a marijuana prescription from their doctor, they will be entered into the Superintendent of Health’s patient registry. This list will detail everything about the patient’s prescription, including:
With the issuance of the Malta Drug Dependence Act in 2015, the government reduced the penalty for individuals found with a small amount of marijuana. Under this law, penalties focus on rehabilitation as opposed to imprisonment. Because of how ineffective the current medical marijuana program is, many patients choose to buy marijuana illegally and face potential penalties, which could include a fine or mandatory rehab.
When the new law is initiated, more patients will be able to join the country’s medical marijuana program and have the legal right to access and possess cannabis medications.
Malta is only one of many European nations where medical marijuana legislation is changing. All around the ring of the Mediterranean Sea and beyond, governments are acknowledging the potential of cannabis to treat a variety of different conditions and adapting their laws to allow its use medically.
To learn more about these exciting changes, be sure to stay updated with MarijuanaDoctors.com. You can research international cannabis laws from around the world and browse our blog and resource guides, which answer commonly asked questions.