Luxembourg to Become Third Country in the World, and First in Europe, to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

As legalization momentum has increased in last years, and Canada followed Ecuador, we have often guessed when a European country would join the fold and, hopefully, kickstart the vibe in EU and.

The most obvious candidates always were the Netherlands, obviously, but also Portugal which decriminalized drugs last decade already, and more recently Spain after it allowed the social cannabis clubs.

Yet, last week a surprise came from a less expected area in the EU, as Luxembourg’s Health Minister Etienne Schneider declared in an interview that the Duchy wants to become the third country to fully legalize marijuana for recreational use.

”This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work. Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people.”
— Etienne Schneider, Health Minister of Luxembourg to POLITICO

The legislation, which is being drafted, will allow adults to posses up to 30 grams (little more than an ounce) and adolescents between 12 and 17 will not be penalized for the possession of up to 5 gram — a first worldwide. Yet, harsh penalties will be prepared for citizens passing the limits.

The new laws are the result of a coalition promise, between all three governing parties who included legalization of recreational marihuana in their campaigns.

Yet, Schneider admitted that legalization is difficult and will take time.

”Legalizing cannabis requires many more steps than just declaring the substance legal. You need an entire regulatory market, including setting taxes and quality checks.”
— Etienne Schneider, to POLITICO

Additionally, the country will not allow home cultivation, but is looking at a completely regulated market, probably similar to the Canadian model. Schneider didn’t express whether the country plans to import its legal cannabis from abroad.

Lastly, contrarily to its usual habit with alcohol, tobacco and also as one of the most prolific Freeport operators in the EU, Luxembourg plans not to sell its legal marijuana to non-citizens. It hopes to avoid cannabis tourism in the small duchy. At the same time Schneider appealed to other member states to loosen up its laws.

Due to the open border and free movement principles in the EU, Luxembourg’s future legal cannabis law could very well kickstart a trickle effect in the neighboring states.

Belgium, under its current central-right government maintains a zero tolerance policy — after previously having had a relaxed attitude for few years. Germany has already legalized medical marijuana but generally police in neighboring provinces is rather laidback and tolerant. France, under Macron, is in policy also more progressive than in recent decades.

While we should celebrate the upcoming progress, and legalization within probably 2 years only, the Luxembourg model leaves much to desire, as we know from the Canadian model. Yet, more importantly than a small EU member state legalizing marijuana for its citizens, is the trickle effect it could have within the European Union.


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