Luxembourg to Legalize Cannabis, but Not for Tourists
Luxembourg ministers have cemented their commitment to legalizing cannabis consumption, but only for citizens.
Speaking to Politico, the country’s health minister announced that the country’s legislation will likely ban non-residents from buying cannabis in order to prevent a drug-tourism surge seen in cities like Amsterdam.
However, he also called on European neighbors to follow in the country’s wake and legalize cannabis for their own citizens.
“This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work,” said Etienne Schneider. “Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people… I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”
Luxembourg officials revealed their preliminary plans for recreational legalization back in November 2018 during a press conference held by the three coalition parties. But the recent comments from Schneider have added clarity to the kind of recreational market Luxembourg will develop.
While draft legislation isn’t expected to be seen until later in the year, home growing is expected to be prohibited, as the state intends to regulate production and distribution entirely through a new cannabis agency.
Residents over the age of 18 will be allowed to buy up to 30 grams of cannabis, but minors aged between 12 and 17 won’t be criminalized for possessing five grams or fewer.
Schneider claims that legalization could enter Luxembourg law within two years, which would make the country the third in the world (after Uruguay and Canada), and the first in Europe, to violate the three United Nations (UN) treaties that set the world’s robust drug control program. This planned defiance was recently questioned in the Luxembourg parliament, but Schneider claimed the government was in discussion with the UN over the issue.
If successful in enacting such a stark change in European drug policy, many believe a domino effect is likely to follow.
“The social pressure will be so high that if you have legalization in one of the EU member states, soon that will be discussed seriously in the other ones,” Malte Goetz, a lawyer specializing in the German medical cannabis market, told Politico.
Germany legalized medical cannabis in March 2017, but its program has been stymied by supply shortages. Other European countries like the UK, France, and Ireland have all recently announced medical cannabis efforts, but none have progressed with recreational policies.
Luxembourg legalized medical cannabis in June 2018 and now has at least 250 doctors trained to prescribe the medication.
Following a research trip to Canada in May to discuss legalization with government officials, Schneider and justice minister Félix Braz said that Luxembourg will have a similar public health-led model for recreational cannabis.
This public health approach will likely involve a cap on the potency of any cannabis products. Though this limit has yet to be announced, according to the Luxembourg Times cannabis sold on the country’s black market can reach up to 60 percent THC content by weight.
“We can learn from other countries' experiences and avoid mistakes [in Luxembourg] from the outset,” explained the ministers in their official report following their trip to Canada.