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European Cannabis Round-Up: Malta Plans To Slash Prohibitive Fees For Cannabis Clubs, Germany’s CDU/CSU Calls For Better Protection Of Medical Cannabis Patients & Amsterdam To Ban Smoking On Streets

MALTA’s Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC) has said that it plans to significantly reduce financially prohibitive licence fees for cannabis associations.

Earlier this month, BusinessCann reported that ARUC had officially announced the requirements that Cannabis Harm Reduction Associations (CHRAs), set to be the only avenue to legally purchase cannabis for personal use, will have to meet in order to be licenced.

While the pioneering guidelines were a welcome step forward for Malta, which passed landmark legislation allowing adults to possess up to 7gs of cannabis for personal use in 2021, concerns were raised that the licence fees were likely to drive consumers back to the illicit market.

In an interview with local news publication Lovin Malta, head of ARUC Leonid McKay reassured industry stakeholders that they had taken these concerns onboard and were making changes.

“The authority understood that non-profit organisations would have initial cash flow problems, lack prior knowledge on their members’ consumption patterns, and have problems of longstanding financial commitments while the vetting process is ongoing.

“NPOs are already facing financial burdens and we must help them, particularly the small ones, in the first two years. I personally spoke to (Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms) Rebecca Buttigieg about it and we agreed that the licence fee will go down from a minimum €8,000 to a minimum €1,000 until we have full visibility of the situation, which will take around two years.”

In further efforts to reduce the financial burden on potential CHRAs, Mr McKay suggested licence fees will not need to be paid in advance, but can be payable in arrears, while plans are in place to slash the €1,000 registration fee for small associations to €500.

Amsterdam to ban cannabis consumption on the streets

Amsterdam’s campaign to crackdown on what authorities have described as ‘nuisance tourism’ has taken a significant step forward as the city’s authorities announced plans to ban the consumption of cannabis on the street.

In a statement published by the local council last week (February 9), a number of new measures have been proposed to tackle the ‘grim atmosphere’ of De Wallen, better known as the ‘Red Light District’.

This includes stopping cannabis being smoked outdoors ‘from mid-May’, with the potential to extend this to ‘terraces at coffee shops’ if the ‘nuisance does not decrease enough’ via the initial measures.

Amsterdam’s De Wallen or ‘Red Light’ district

Residents, who have been the driving force behind these measures, describing the district as ‘unsafe and unlivable’, will have four weeks to respond to these proposed measures.

These latest measures follow a number of other initiatives introduced last year including the introduction of hosts and hostesses, one-way traffic during busy periods and the banning of drinking on the streets.

The measures are understood to have support from the majority of the city council.

It comes as the Netherlands’ legal adult-use cannabis trial, intended to help reduce the ‘back door’ nature of the current coffee shop framework and shift revenues away from the black market, continues to encounter delays.

In November 2022, BusinessCann reported that the selected growers told the government the proposed timeline is unfeasible due to their inability to secure banking facilities, the high costs of energy and raw materials, alongside issues with the proposed track and trace system.

German CDU/CSU party calls for better access to medical cannabis

Germany’s centre right CDU/CSU party, unofficially known as the ‘union’ faction, have called for better care for medical cannabis patients.

The call, which was published last week, came as a surprise to many given the party’s general opposition to Germany’s current plans to launch an adult-use cannabis market.

“Due to the reservations that still exist in connection with a lack of specialist knowledge about the mode of action of cannabis as a medicine, cannabis medicinal products are not even considered as a theraputic approach even when directly requested by patients,” the application read.

It goes on to detail further issues, including the high administrative hurdles encountered in the approval process for health insurance, leading to long waiting times for chronically ill patients.

It therefore called on the government to ‘take appropriate measures to ensure the supply of patients with highly pure medical cannabis products’ if adult-legalisation occurs, alongside the introduction of a ‘suitable system for the certification and classification of medical cannabis’.

Furthermore, the party suggested the creation of a ‘nationwide unified framework and handling of medical cannabis products’, the support of further research into cannabis and to ease the path for doctors to prescribe and insurance companies to approve prescriptions.

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