Trade restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, combined with Malta’s laws on production and distribution, have restricted the country’s supply of cannabis, both legal and illegal. Shortly after the legalization of medical cannabis in 2018, Malta had already experienced a shortage. However, the black market still stockpiled, and patients had temporarily replaced it. Medical users found themselves at risk this time, with no possibility of getting their treatment.
So much for [Malta being] the medical center of Europe,” said Andrew Bonello, president of the community organization Releaf Malta. “One of the brands of medicinal cannabis, Pedanios, has been out of stock for about a month, and Bedrocan, the only alternative, has been out of stock for two or three weeks. People are furious. So many people have contacted us, we can’t keep up.
Two weeks ago, Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba raised the issue of the limited availability of medical cannabis. “Maltese legislation … causes a major inconvenience when one of these products is not available on the local market,” he said. This leads patients who depend on such drugs to rely on the illegal market or are forced to use products derived from medical opioids.
At least one variety became available again on Friday, September 4, according to the latest news.
Fortunately, one of the only two locally licensed brands, Bedrocan, arrived in pharmacies last Friday, while Pedanios should be in stock soon,” said Andrew Bonello.
The shortage prompted Alex Agius Saliba to advocate for improved regulation to ensure the supply of Maltese patients.
“I have spoken out and will continue to lobby the authorities to change our legislation so that we are no longer restricting our market.
Although medical cannabis has been legal in Malta since 2018, Andrew Bonello adds that the problems are not limited to the supply of medical cannabis, but also the lack of diversity of products available, the limited number of legal sources, and the high cost of legal cannabis.
Many people just want to be able to grow their cannabis because they simply can’t afford the exorbitant prices,” says Bonello. How can a cancer patient pay 1141$ a month when he can’t even work?