European Island Nation of Malta Is Experiencing a Massive Weed Drought Due to Pandemic
The South European country has endured cannabis shortages before, but the 2020 pandemic has left both medical suppliers and illicit dealers flush out of product.
Published on September 1, 2020

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If you’re looking to score weed in Malta, look elsewhere. The Mediterranean archipelago, which counts 40,000 pot-users among its population, is reported to have completely exhausted its domestic cannabis supply. 

Trade limitations dictated by the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with Malta’s arch laws about production and distribution, have decimated the nation’s channels to obtain cannabis, both legal and illegal. In the meantime, Maltese marijuana advocates are petitioning regulators to enact changes that might help bring some relief.

But, this isn’t the first time Malta’s gone dry. Shortly after legalizing medical marijuana in 2018, the country’s regulated supply ran out. While possession and use of cannabis without a prescription card was — and remains — an arrestable offense, Malta’s illicit peddlers still had plenty of product to offer back then. This time, both doctors and dealers are tapped out.

“So much for [Malta being] the medical hub of Europe,” said Andrew Bonello, president of the community-based organization Releaf Malta, regarding 2018’s drought. “One of the medicinal cannabis brands, Pedanios, has been out of stock for around a month, and Bedrocan, the only other alternative, has been out of stock for two or three weeks. People are livid. So many people have contacted us, we cannot keep up.”

Member of European Parliament (MEP) Alex Agius Saliba, one of Malta’s most pro-medical-cannabis politicians, has stated that enough is enough — or, in this case, that not enough is too much.

Two weeks ago, Saliba raised the issue of limited medical cannabis availability. “Maltese legislation… is leading to a major inconvenience when one of these products is not available on the local market,” he said. “This is leading to patients who depend on this type of medicine to rely on the illegal market or are forced to use products derived from medical opioids.”

After officials failed to address the crisis, Saliba took up the mantle again. “Another month of useless suffering has passed for patients to whom medicinal cannabis is crucial to living a life with dignity,” he said. “I have spoken out and I will continue to put pressure on the responsible authorities so that our legislation is amended in a way that we do not continue to restrict our market.”

Mike McPadden
Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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