Malta becomes first country in Europe to legalize cannabis for recreational use

The Maltese parliament unanimously approved legislation on Thursday allowing the country to become the first in Europe to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

According to Reuters, the legislation will allow cannabis to be produced, sold and taxed in pharmacies and online. It was passed with minimal debate.

The legislation is expected to be ratified by the Maltese government in the coming weeks, the Guardian reported. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat commented in a statement that the country will be the first to legalize recreational marijuana use in Europe, adding that Malta “will also take its place in the wider European landscape.”

“These are important milestones for cannabis policy in Malta,” Muscat said in a statement following the vote. “They are a response to our voters who expressed a preference for changing cannabis laws. They will take us to a new phase for our counter-narcotics efforts.”

The law will not legalize the cultivation of marijuana, which would need to be approved by the Maltese government through referendum, according to Reuters.

Malta has long decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis. It was estimated that 500,000 Maltese people, who make up roughly 7 percent of the population, have used cannabis at least once.

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