Luxembourg's ambition is to legalize for recreational purposes and to convince other European countries to do the same.
Free, legal, recreational and therapeutic cannabis for all: this is Luxembourg's idea for itself and for the rest of Europe. The Luxembourg Ministry of Health is expected to present a proposal to launch the legislative process in the autumn, the aim being for it to become law within two years. In this case, Luxembourg will be part of a small but growing list of countries like Canada, Uruguay and 12 states in the United States that have legalized it, with obvious and tangible consequences on the quality of what is sold and on crime, drastically diminished.
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 the young people already had weed on the black market, coming into contact with drug dealers who provide cannabis of unknown quality and have access to more dangerous drugs. "This drug policy that we have been pursuing for 50 years has not worked," Schneider told Political. Under the legislation proposed by Schneider and by 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 ban home cultivation and likely place an age limit, possibly 18, on the purchase. Schneider is also planning a ban on purchases by non-residents, in order to prevent drug tourism. Also because the idea of Luxembourg of the anti-prohibitionists of Europe is to create a domino effect with the other countries of the EU.
Of course, you can already pick up weed in Amsterdam coffee shops or cannabis social clubs in Catalonia. Luxembourg, however, wants to go further and become the first country in the European Union to legalize cannabis.
Legalizing cannabis requires more than just declaring the substance legal. You need a complete regulatory market, including tax setting and quality controls. Banning everything has made things more interesting for young people, Schneider said.
Despite these measures, neighboring countries remain nervous. Malta Goetz, a lawyer specializing in the medical cannabis market in Germany, said Luxembourg law could create a boost for the EU.
"The social pressure will be so strong that, if one of the EU member states is legalized, it will soon be seriously discussed 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 set up experimental medical cannabis systems this year. In doing so, their health ministers made it clear that this would not result in the legalization of recreational cannabis.
An "open attitude"
Luxembourg allows cannabis for medical purposes and decriminalizes the possession of small personal quantities. Buying, selling and growing 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 recreational cannabis in their government agenda, mainly driven by young 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 maintaining borders and regulating this new market, especially if Luxembourg's neighbors fear unwanted spillovers. But he said he wanted to rally other countries and was talking to other health ministers.
Germany has extended access to cannabis for medical purposes only after an order from 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 end up liberalizing their laws over time. He pointed out that Illinois, for example, was moving from restrictive medical cannabis legislation to a recreational cannabis law that provided for the removal of records of hundreds of thousands of people accused of cannabis possession.
“Lawmakers are afraid that if something goes wrong, people can be hurt and blamed. So they take a very conservative approach, ”he said. “And over time, as they see that the problems don't develop… they slowly, over time, loosen the restrictions. "
« In Germany there is a consensus that there is a reason why medical cannabis is allowed and there are patients who benefit from it, ”Goetz said. “So there is no reason to ban this. But there is certainly no consensus on recreational legalization yet. "
However, Luxembourg should not let the reluctance of neighbors and greater uncertainty prevent it from moving forward with legalization. His advice is, "Keep it up. "