Following the Convention entitled “Setting the Standards” held on the 27th of January 2023, the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC) is hereby publishing the following preliminary information on the registration and licensing of cannabis harm reduction associations which shall be regulated by ad hoc regulations and supplementary binding instruments which shall be published in February 2023.
Associations will be known as Cannabis Harm Reduction Associations and will be registered with and licensed by the ARUC.
Associations will be non-profit making, and their sole purpose will be to cultivate and distribute cannabis for their adult members only.
ARUC is the regulator of the associations and will monitor compliance with the entire process from seed to distribution.
Authorised associations will be able to cultivate cannabis plants for the benefit of their members only, and they will be able to distribute them to their members dried cannabis flowers only. ARUC may also consent the associations to distribute prescribed goods, but the distribution of cannabis in another form is strictly prohibited.
The associations will carry out the entire process from seed to distribution. They may not procure or transfer cannabis plants, dried cannabis, or finished or semi-finished products to or from other individuals, associations, or entities.
Applications will be open as of the 28th of February, 2023.
Organisations will be established as an association of persons by at least two individuals.
Associations will be governed by a Board of Administration of at least three individuals. The Board of Administration will be required to appoint or engage the following designated persons who must be registered by ARUC and may be selected from among the board members:
- A key officer who is suitably qualified or possesses a minimum of 5 years of experience in management. The legal and judicial representation of the association shall be vested in the key person, who will be responsible for personally supervising the operations of the association and will be the primary contact person of ARUC. ARUC must approve the key officer.
- An individual responsible for the growing site,
- An individual responsible for security,
- An individual responsible for the distribution of cannabis to the members,
- An individual responsible for quality control, and
- An individual responsible for quality assurance who will be required to perform product testing.
ARUC may, at its discretion, allow an individual to occupy multiple roles; however, the individual responsible for quality control shall always be different from the key officer and the grower. The individual responsible for quality assurance shall be a person who is independent of the association and who shall carry out product testing.
All association members must be Malta residents and over 18 years of age.
Founding members, administrators, and key officer must be fit and proper persons who have resided in Malta for a minimum of five years prior to their appointment.
The designated persons and any other association employee shall be registered with ARUC and must be residents of Malta.
Associations must submit projections of their operations for the first three years together with their application.
Financial reports will be submitted regularly, as the ARUC stipulates. Furthermore, audited accounts must be submitted on a yearly basis.
Associations will be subject to rigorous prevention of money laundering procedures.
Salaries, remuneration for services, fees and expenses must not be higher than market rates for similar roles and services, and costs must not be inflated.
Founding members, administrators, designated persons, and employees must attend training on harm reduction measures.
Associations must adopt harm reduction mechanisms to promote impartial safe use according to one’s age, health, and well-being.
Associations will be required to pay the following fees. Further details will be given at a later stage.
- An application fee of €1,000.
- A yearly licence fee based on the number of members. The following categories shall apply:
a. 0 – 50 members
b. 51 – 100 members
c. 101 – 250 members
d. 251 – 350 members
e. 351 – 500 members
- Harm reduction contributions
All associations should obtain the following planning permit in relation to their premises:
- a class 4B permit or equivalent approval will be required for the distribution sites.
- a class 5A permit or equivalent approval will be required for growing sites within buildings.
In addition, all premises managed by associations will be required to:
- be registered with and approved by ARUC,
- be enclosed such that operations are not visible from the outside,
- be protected with adequate security features to ensure that only authorised persons may access the premises,
- be 250m away from schools and youth centres as stipulated in the legislation.
Cannabis may only be distributed from the approved distribution sites. Other modes of distribution will be prohibited.
No other activity will be permitted to be carried out from within the associations’ premises. The consumption of cannabis on site will be prohibited.
Cannabis will be required to be packaged in tamper-evident and child-resistant packaging, including labelling and health warnings as prescribed by ARUC.
All means of advertising or promotion, including digital media, are prohibited.
Technical Standards will be issued by the ARUC specifying the expected levels of operations relating but not limited to the operational set-ups, compliance, cultivation practices, sampling and testing and packaging and labelling.
Different cultivation practices will be allowed as long as ARUC approves these.
ARUC reserves the right to withdraw, update or amend this Information Factsheet in the light of further developments, including the publication of the new regulations.