Luxembourg's ambition is to legalize for recreational purposes and to convince other European countries to do the same.
Recreational and therapeutic cannabis free, legal, for all: this is Luxembourg's idea for itself and for the rest of Europe. The Luxembourg Ministry of Health should present a proposal to launch the legislative process in the autumn, with the aim that it will become law within two years. In this case, Luxembourg will be part of a short but growing list of countries like Canada, Uruguay and 12 States of the United States that have legalized it, with obvious and tangible consequences on the quality of what is sold and on crime, drastically decreased.
The Minister of Health, Etienne Schneider, is one of the main supporters of the legalization of cannabis. He cites health-related reasons as one of the main factors. He added that youths already had grass on the black market, coming into contact with drug traffickers who were supplying cannabis of unknown quality and having access to more dangerous drugs. "This drug policy that we have been running for 50 years has not worked," Schneider told Political. Under the legislation proposed by Schneider and the Minister of Justice, Félix Braz, Luxembourg would legalize the entire cannabis market, from licenses for its production to the legalization of its consumption, in a highly regulated structure. This would prohibit cultivation at home and would probably impose an age limit, possibly 18 years, on purchase. Schneider also plans a ban on purchases by non-residents, to avoid drug tourism. Also because Luxembourg's idea of anti-prohibitionists in Europe is to create a domino effect with the other EU countries.
Of course, you can already find grass in Amsterdam coffee shops or social cannabis clubs in Catalonia. However, Luxembourg wants to go further and become the first country in the European Union to legalize cannabis.
Legalizing cannabis requires much more than just declaring the legal substance. You need a complete regulatory market, including the setting of taxes and quality controls. Prohibit everything made things more interesting for young people said Schneider.
Despite these measures, neighboring countries remain nervous. Malta Goetz, a lawyer specializing in the market for cannabis for medical purposes in Germany, said Luxembourg law could create a boost effect on the EU.
"The social pressure will be so strong that, if one of the EU member states is legalized, it will soon be discussed seriously in the others," he said.
EU countries are also deeply divided over cannabis more generally. Most are still wondering how to make medical cannabis available to patients. Ireland and France have only put in place experimental systems for medical cannabis this year. In doing so, their ministers of health said that this would not lead to the legalization of recreational cannabis.
An "open attitude"
Luxembourg allows cannabis for medical purposes and decriminalizes the possession of small personal quantities. The purchase, sale and cultivation remain illegal.
For the moment, support for the bill seems strong. The three parties that make up the ruling coalition in Luxembourg have all included the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes in their government agenda, mainly driven by younger members.
But Luxembourg is struggling with the fact that it is a small country in which about 200000 people go every day for work.
Schneider admits that it will be difficult to find a balance between the maintenance of borders and the regulation of this new market, especially if Luxembourg's neighbors fear undesirable overflows. But he said he wanted to join other countries and was talking to other health ministers.
Germany has extended access to cannabis for medical purposes only after an order of the Supreme Court. To date, "our drug policies have not been very successful," he said. "I hope we all have a more open attitude towards drugs."
But he also sees Luxembourg following a trend in which lawmakers start with a more conservative approach and eventually liberalize their laws over time. He pointed out that Illinois, for example, was moving from restrictive legislation on medical cannabis to a recreational cannabis law that removed the archives of hundreds of thousands of people accused of cannabis possession.
"Legislators are afraid that if there is a problem, people can be hurt and blamed. They take a very conservative approach, "he said. "And over time, as they see that the problems do not develop ... they slowly release, over time, the restrictions."
" In Germany, there is a consensus that there is a reason why medical cannabis is allowed and there are patients who benefit, "said Goetz. "So, there is no reason to ban that. But there is certainly no consensus yet on legalization for recreational purposes. "
However, Luxembourg should not let the reluctance of neighbors and greater uncertainty prevent it from advancing in legalization. His advice is: "Keep up with that."