Malta has joined the growing list of nations allowing for the use of medical cannabis, a move that has been generally welcomed by pro-cannabis patient support groups in the country.
LovinMalta reports amendments to the somewhat unfortunately named Drug Dependence Act (Treatment not Imprisonment) were passed last Friday by Malta’s parliament after its third and final reading.
According to the amendments, a licenced medical practitioner will be permitted to prescribe non-smokeable medicinal preparations of cannabis and synthetic cannabinoid products licensed under the Medicines Act or manufactured under Good Manufacturing Practice.
Qualifying conditions appear to be very limited at this point. LovinMalta lists chronic pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis and side effects of chemotherapy as being the only ones. Still, programs in many other regions started out with a very limited list and many have added conditions since.
Also in the works is the Production of Cannabis for Medicinal Use Bill, which seeks to permit the local production of cannabis products.
The Independent reports Malta Enterprise has approved five projects for local production that between them will generate around 175 jobs. Three of the so far un-named companies are based in Canada while the other two are from Australia and Israel.
Malta Enterprise is the nation’s economic development agency, tasked with attracting new foreign direct investment and facilitating the growth of existing operations.
Minister for the Economy Chris Cardona tweeted:
“One step closer to introducing law regulating production of cannabis for medicinal&research purposes as discussions in committee hv been concluded
#Proud to be piloting this bill to introduce a new economic niche”
The legislation will also open the door to allowing licensed companies to carry out clinical trials in Malta.
These are big steps forward for the country. While reforms in 2015 saw the preparation Sativex approved prescription use, by July 2017, not a single person had been treated with it as it couldn’t be purchased in Malta. In addition to the product being very expensive, it also required prescription from a specialist and permission from the Superintendent of Public Health.
As in many other countries, some doctors have apparently been supplying cannabidiol based products to their patients or helping patients to access CBD, but they’ve done so at great risk to their careers.