Just three weeks after Malta officially legalized medical cannabis, a second cannabis bill has been passed. This bill, called the Production of Cannabis for Medicinal Use Bill, was approved by the Parliament of Malta on Tuesday after the third reading, signaling a major legislative step towards making the country a medical cannabis manufacturing mecca.
With the new cannabis bill approved by parliament, cannabis manufacturers can now apply for license to produce medical marijuana products in Malta. These companies can sell their products both locally and abroad.
According to the Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses Chris Cardona, this new legislation is the latest in a series of initiatives taken by the government to boost Malta’s potential, as well as to seek innovative markets to set up new economic niches that are emerging globally. Cardona said that the government’s ultimate goal is to further strengthen the country’s economy, which keeps surpassing expectations every year.
Opposition to the Production of Medical Cannabis Bill
The Nationalist Party voted against the new bill, citing a lack of assurances with regard to the cultivation of medical cannabis in an industrial scale.
Nationalist MP Claudio Grech referred to a report stating that the government had already given an Australian pharmaceutical company, MGC, the green light to operate a cannabis facility on a public land that was given to them through Malta Enterprise. He also pointed out that Malta Enterprise had already issued multiple letters of intent. All these even before the bill was approved.
It can be recalled that the government failed to explain last week how an Australian company was granted a contract to develop a 4,000-square meter medical cannabis cultivation and production facility in the south of the country even before the law had been passed.
Meanwhile, the opposition members of the Partit Demokratiku voted in favor of the bill. PD MP Godfrey Farrugia said they approved the bill since the procedures that will be followed for the production of medical cannabis are in accordance with the strictest international standards.
Farrugia also said that they okayed the bill since serious and established international operators are going to be involved, and the opportunities it will bring will present a healthy economic diversification that will positively contribute to the country’s GDP.
According to the country’s legislative system, a bill officially becomes a law only after the members of parliament approve it at third reading. The legislation is then signed by the president and published in the Government Gazette.
Government clarifies false report
The Ministry for the Economy had just issued a response to a Times of Malta report saying that local farmers were asked to sell land to convert into cannabis farms.
In its statement, the Ministry for the Economy said that the legislation and the policy for medical cannabis production provides that any related cultivation and production for designated purposes and parameters may only be carried out in secured and designated industrial areas, under GMP conditions. The Ministry assures that no cultivation or production of cannabis is going to be allowed or licensed if it is outside the designated industrial areas.
Furthermore, the Ministry unequivocally attests that any reported entity who approach local farmers and offer to buy their agricultural land under the pretense that their property will be used for cultivating cannabis is being misguided and deceptive, as no other scenarios for medical cannabis cultivation will be permitted, except the ones previously outlined under legislation.
The Ministry added that the MGC project is going to be allocated within a closed space in the areas of Malta Industrial Parks, which is near Malta Enterprise – not the Bulebel site as reported.