“Malta is my home and Malta is my love, And I’ve got the birds at the coast to great you all; But like the muse of your love, You will always meet me at the coast as your tourist guide” – Edward Kofi Louis
Next up on our cannabis culture series, we’re heading over to the smallest country in the European Union: Malta. Many people out there have never even heard of this deliciously beautiful place. Well, don’t worry, today you’ll be given all the information you need to know. Whilst Europe’s view on cannabis is far from progressive, especially when compared with that of the US or Canada, there are a few silver linings.
One of these golden nations is Malta. It may be the smallest country in the EU, but when it comes to cannabis legalization, it’s by far the boldest. We’re going to be delving into the cannabis culture of Malta to understand why they’ve become the first nation in Europe to legalize recreational cannabis. Remember, cannabis culture isn’t just about laws or the government, it’s also about the feelings, the zeitgeist and the people. Culture is made by people. Welcome to Malta.
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Malta is a tiny little country at the bottom of Europe, just below Italy and to the side of Spain. It sits beautifully in the midst of the Mediterranean sea. With a population of only 515,000 and a size of only 121 square miles, this nation is a small yet proud one. In fact, Malta is the smallest country in the European Union, and it became a member of the EU in 2004. Malta is made up of 5 small islands, Malta being the largest one. During the second world war, allied forces took refuge here, but the country was subject to huge amounts of bomings from enemy forces. It’s no surprise that the Maltese are a proud people, and have a huge sense of strength and unity. Every Culture writes:
“Maltese people celebrate the contributions to their culture of Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Normans, Sicilians, Swabians, Arogonese, Castilian, the Knights, and the British…The nation became independent in 1964…Although identification with Europe remains strong, it has been tempered by a strong emphasis on nationalism and neutrality coupled with the idea of forming a cultural bridge between Europe and northern Africa”
Whilst Malta is a part of Europe geographically and apart of the EU politically, it has its own strong sense of identity and individualism. Especially due to its diverse history. Perhaps this is why it’s been more progressive towards cannabis than other European nations.
Malta has an insanely beautiful coastline, which is spread across almost 200km. With kartik rock and mediterranean-style vegetation, the beaches and coasts of Malta are some of the most beautiful in the world. The capital city, Valletta, has some of the most scenic views of the sea. Mellieha Bay, Ghajn Bay and Golden Bay are just some of the stunning coastal beaches on offer. Malta is famous for its coastline because it offers a tropical type of sea that many Europeans aren’t used to.
If you want to know how incredibly old and stunning some of the ancient Maltesan structures are, then all you have to do is watch Gladiator. That’s right. A lot of the Gladiator movie was filmed deep in Malta, with the backdrop of some of its incredibly ancient structures. The Megalithic temples were constructed during the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. Some of these places are older than Stonehenge and the Great Egyptian pyramids. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Malta is an ideal diving spot. But that isn’t just because it’s a small island and the water is crisp and clear, although that’s also a reason. The main purpose for diving in Malta is because of its over 80 ship and aircraft wrecks around the three islands of: Malta, Gozo and Comino. 15 of these are regularly dived and are extremely interesting. Divers will go deep underwater and see the wreckage of ships and aircrafts up close. The Blue Hole in Gozo and the Cirkewwa in Malta are considered to be the best diving spots in Europe. So, as you can see, Malta may be a small nation, but it’s full of rich, exotic history.
Is Cannabis Legal in Malta?
So, now we know a little more about Malta as a nation, we can start to look at where it stands with cannabis. Well, in 2021, Malta became the first country in Europe to legalize recreational cannabis. Of 44 countries that make up Europe, the small nation of Malta were the first who decided to take the plunge of cannabis acceptance. It wasn’t France. It wasn’t Germany. It wasn’t the UK. It wasn’t Italy. It wasn’t Spain. It was Malta. It’s important to understand that in the Netherlands – whilst cannabis is decriminalised and easily purchased in coffeeshops – it is not technically legal. Luxembourg also recently legalized the cultivation of cannabis, but did not technically go as far as Malta has. The Guardian writes that in Malta, as of 2021:
“Possession of up to seven grams of the drug will be legal for those aged 18 and above, and it will be permissible to grow up to four cannabis plants at home, with up to 50g of the dried product storable.”
In the same article, the Maltese Minister for Equality also stated:
“There is a wave of understanding now that the hard-fist approach against cannabis users was disproportionate, unjust and it was rendering a lot of suffering to people who are leading exemplary lives. But the fact that they make use on a personal basis of cannabis is putting them in the jaws of criminality”
It is thought that this bold, thoughtful and progressive move from Malta could be the catalyst for the rest of Europe in 2022. Germany, especially, is showing signs that legislation is only round the corner. Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands would, supposedly, follow suit in order to create a legally regulated European cannabis market.
The Culture of Cannabis in Malta
Malta is not the first country that comes to mind when you think of mother nature’s beautiful plant. However, according to Malta Today, 9.3% of the population has smoked cannabis. Any nation that decides to be the first country on a continent to legalize cannabis must have a special relationship with the natural substance. So, the question is, what is it?
If you look back at Malta’s history, they’ve experienced many different nations coming in and out of their country. From Romans, to Phoenicians, to the Ottoman empire. And then, in the second World War, Malta experienced some of the heaviest bombing in Europe. The people of Malta understand what it is to struggle. And, because of this, they’re strong. They don’t have an arrogant sense of identity like much of Europe does. Therefore, whilst Malta is a part of Europe, it doesn’t necessarily have the narrow mindedness that the old European empire powers do. Not only that, but Malta also is geographically smaller and further away from the continent. Therefore, it’s this open-mindedness and national unity that has allowed for Malta to be the first country to fully legalize cannabis.
The beautiful coastline of Malta perfectly fits the cannabis lifestyle. Much like California, Malta benefits from its beaches, white sand and strong heat. It’s a canna-utopia. Rather than coffeeshops or dispensaries, the plan for Malta is to have cannabis clubs spread around areas of the country:
“Instead of dispensaries like in the state markets in America, Malta’s program will feature non-profit cannabis clubs. Each club can only have 500 members and people can only buy seven grams per transaction and a maximum of 50 grams a month”
Once the law has set in and the country has reacted to its new legislation, the potential for cannabis culture in Malta will be truly realised. Picture it: stunning beaches, sun-kissed sand, and cannabis clubs spread across the coastline. Malta will truly become the cannabis location to be jealous of.
Whilst Malta isn’t the first country that people think of when it comes to cannabis, it might be now. Malta has, without a doubt, put itself on the map by becoming the first nation in Europe to legalize cannabis. This small, but proud place has taken a huge step in Europe and could, potentially, be the catalyst for mass legalization on the continent. The culture may be small, but it is certainly rife, and it’s only going to get bigger. We’d recommend booking your tickets now rather than later. ‘
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.
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