2017 was a big year for weed in Malta. The first historical steps towards cannabis legalisation happened, and for the first time both major political parties officially supported drug reform in their election manifestos.
However, the thing most easily demonstrates just how high the demand for weed in Malta is the amount of weed that was caught trying to make its way into Malta, or indeed, caught in Malta.
Compared to the 73kg of cannabis confiscated in 2015, and 108kg of cannabis resin in 2016, the Maltese police force had confiscated over 600kg of cannabis by October of this year alone.
And that’s just what they actually got their hands on. This year also saw some of the largest hauls ever captured on the way to Malta by boat.
With the Maltese showing an insatiable appetite for marijuana, 2018 will be the year the Government of Malta decides to legalise and regulate the literal tonnes of cannabis being brought into the black market – or the year that even more illicit weed is brought into the island.
Below are the six largest illegal hauls that were aimed for the Maltese market.
A 31-year-old Italian man from Catania was found with 10kg of cannabis in his hotel in The Strand, Sliema, after being kept under police observation for a month.
Estimated street value: €100,000*
Estimated joint value: 40,000 joints
A 47-year-old Italian man who was attempting to board the Sicily-Malta catamaran on its way to Malta was arrested in Pazzallo with 15kg of cannabis resin. It was wrapped in plastic blocks in a hidden compartment in his luggage.
The man was removed from the Malta-headed catamaran and taken to and processed in the police headquarters in Ragusa, Sicily.
Estimated street value: €150,000
Estimated joint value: 60,000 joints
Two Maltese men were arrested alongside an Italian women after a raid by the Drug Squad on their boat in Ghadira. They were found with 70kg of cannabis resin.
Estimated street value: €700,000
Estimated joint value: 280,000 joints
The latest major drug bust to happen, a 42-year-old Maltese man living in Msida was caught with 150kg of cannabis. He was spotted by Customs Officials acting nervously when he was driving his van off the catamaran from Sicily.
He said he had nothing to declare when asked by customs, but their suspicions were raised when they noticed plastic bales in his van, bales that turned to be cannabis flower.
He was also found in possession of €36,210 in cash, as well as a Beretta pistol.
Estimated street value: €2,250,000
Estimated joint value: 600,000 joints
This is the largest cannabis haul in Malta’s history, as well as the largest this year. Two Italians, two Slovenians, and a Maltese man in his thirties were arrested after 530kg of cannabis resin, 20kg of cannabis flower, as well as €100,000 in cash were found hidden in two Italian registered trucks and a Maltese-registered car.
The vehicles were found in a private car park in St. Julian’s and a garage in Fgura. The vans has been under observation for several days.
Estimated street value: €5,600,000
Estimated joint value: 2,200,000 joints
A Tanzanian-flagged ship that had set sail from Nicosia, Cyprus for Malta was intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard after being under surveillance for over 48 hours. The ship was coming to Malta for repairs.
It was found to have 7 tonnes of cannabis in its hold. The ship was then taken to Crete for processing.
Estimated street value: €70,000,000
Estimated joint value: 28,000,000 joints
*An average price of €15 per gram of flowers and €10 per gram for resin was used in calculations, as was found in the Lovin Malta survey, as well as estimating a gram of cannabis equals about four joints.