Marijuana, known as weed, cannabis, spliff etc, is an illegal drug in Malta. Maltese law takes a harsh stance against illicit drugs of any kind, even those categorised as “soft” drugs elsewhere. Importation of illegal drugs should not even be contemplated by anyone, even if it’s a small amount for personal use.
Customs employ advanced detection techniques with sniffer dogs at the airport, and prison terms are often handed out to offenders. In addition the police and the armed forces work together to intercept any trafficking by sea.
During 2007, an Egyptian national was sentenced to a 12 year custodial sentence and fined 15,000 Maltese Liri (about 35,000 Euros) for possession and dealing 14 kilograms of cannabis resin (hashish).
Use of the drug in Malta is fairly low when compared to the rest of Europe, with around 7/8% of the population indulging at least once in a lifetime. However, being a Mediterranean island with a warm climate, the country attracts a large number of tourists, especially in summer months, when there are a variety of concerts (Isle of MTV, for example), and outdoor events with top international DJs. Illicit drug use amongst young Maltese and tourists alike, is on the increase. The police have now established a major presence at these events, and the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) stage regular roadblocks on routes leading to and from these events.
Cannabis cultivation is not very common, even though the climate favours its growth, and this is probably due to the lengthy sentences handed down to those who grow the plants. Being caught with marijuana plants is a serious crime, similar to trafficking, and the penalties seem to be effective in stemming the activity, for both personal and commercial reasons.