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Malta becomes first EU country to legalise cannabis

Malta has become the first European Union country to legalise cannabis at home and for personal use.

MPs approved a legal reform on Tuesday, allowing citizens to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana.

Under the new law, citizens aged 18 and over will be allowed to possess up to seven grams of cannabis, and cultivate up to four cannabis plants at home.

Malta’s parliament was widely expected to pass the bill, which has been supported by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

But the opposition Nationalist party has criticised the reform, saying it will “normalise and increase drug use” in the country.

The bill was approved by a majority vote in parliament and will be signed into effect later this week by Malta’s President George Vella.

PM Abela has reiterated that under the reformed law, drug trafficking will remain illegal.

“We are legislating to address a problem, with a harm reduction approach by regulating the sector so that people don’t have to resort to the black market,” he argued in parliament last month.

Maltese citizens will still be fined up to €100 if caught in possession of between 7 and 28 grams of cannabis.

The penalty increases to €235 if they take the drug in public, and between €300 and €500 if they take the drug in front of children.

But non-profit organisations will be allowed to produce cannabis plants to sell to no more than 500 members, as long as they are not located near schools or youth clubs.

The law will be overseen and enforced by a new public body in Malta — the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis.

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