Malta’s cannabis authority is facing increasing pressure from the country’s fledgling Cannabis Harm Reduction Associations (CHRA) to amend rules that ‘dangerously position them on the brink of legal infractions’.
Just weeks after three additional CHRA’s were granted licences by the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC), one such group is taking the authority to court to air its grievances.
The court case forms part of a wider campaign being brought by Malta’s broader cannabis industry, which says it is ‘aimed at bringing to light the significant challenges faced by CHRAs’.
Yesterday, Sun Growers Farm CHRA announced that it has filed a Judicial Protest in Civil Court against ARUC. The group has accused the authority of repeated delays and a lack of communication in processing its licence application.
With dozens of applications now understood to have been filed with ARUC, the slow progress of its licensing process has been increasing tensions with the prospective CHRA’s for months.
Following the passage of Malta’s pioneering cannabis liberalisation law in 2021, ARUC has to date only granted licences to five CHRAs.
Sun Growers Farm alleges, in a letter sent to various media organisations, that ARUC has been unresponsive since August 2023, after it made the requested changes and submitted rectified documents. This has reportedly left the organisation ‘incurring unnecessary expenses and facing delays in operationalising its plans’.
“Sun Growers Farm CHRA formally requests a written response from the Authority regarding our application and presented amendments within two weeks from the date of this protest. In the absence of a response, the Protestants reserve the right to take further legal action,” the statement reads.
“Sun Growers Farm CHRA holds the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis responsible for any damages incurred due to the delay and lack of communication, emphasising their commitment to safeguarding their legal rights.”
Meanwhile, a group referring to themselves as Malta’s Cannabis Community alleges that the current 500g limit on dried cannabis flower for CHRA’s ‘directly undermines the operational efficacy of licensed CHRA, effectively crippling their ability to provide essential services to the community within the legal framework’.
This 500g limit, which the group calls ‘arbitrary’, presents a number of ‘legal and ethical’ dilemmas for prospective cannabis groups, meaning they cannot both serve the needs of the community and be legally compliant.
“This is an untenable situation, creating a perilous landscape where licensed associations are inadvertently pushed towards potentially illegal activities, just to fulfil their intended purpose as per set directive by ARUC.”
The group has demanded an ‘immediate reassessment’ of these limits and says it is ready to engage in a ‘constructive dialogue to explore feasible solutions’ enabling CHRA’s to operate efficiently, legally, and in alignment with the community’s needs.
Furthermore, the group says this issue is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ and will be raising further grievances over the coming weeks.
Business of Cannabis has contacted ARUC for a response to the various allegations posed by these groups and will update our coverage accordingly.