The European country of Luxembourg (also called the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), which shares borders with Belgium, Germany and France, has a population of approximately 62,000 people. As one of the 27 countries that make up the European Union (EU), it could officially become the first in the EU to legalize cannabis cultivation.
The Luxembourg government announced on October 22 that it would be changing its laws on cannabis, with the intention of legalizing cultivation as well as personal consumption. The changes are included in a defense measure (which includes a total of 27 measures targeted at drug-related crime) that is targeting drug crimes in the country, according to Minister of Justice Sam Tanson.
“We thought we had to act, we have an issue with drugs and cannabis is the drug that is most used and is a large part of the illegal market,” Tamson said at a press conference. “We want to start by allowing people to grow it at home. The idea is that a consumer is not in an illegal situation if he consumes cannabis and that we don’t support the whole illegal chain from production to transportation to selling where there is a lot of misery attached. We want to do everything we can to get more and more away from the illegal black market.”
Adults over 18 years old would be allowed to cultivate up to four of their own cannabis plants at home. The location of these plants would be permitted in any residence, both indoors or outdoors, as well as on balconies, terraces and gardens. According to The Guardian, cannabis seeds would also be legal to obtain. Cannabis seeds would eventually be sold in shops, or purchasable online. Luxembourg officials also altered the punishment of possession.
The consumption or possession of cannabis under three grams is now a misdemeanor instead of a criminal offense. Prior to these new changes, a possession fine ranged from €251 to €2,500. “Above three grams, nothing changes, you will be considered a dealer,” Tanson said at the press conference. “Nothing changes for car drivers either: there is still zero tolerance.”
The reasoning behind Luxembourg officials’ decision to embrace cannabis is to curb the growth of illegal sales on the black market. However, this is only the beginning of the country’s path toward legalization. Tanson described the October 22 announcement as “a first step in our project to legalize recreational cannabis.” No announcement was made in regards to an official launch date, since this legislation is not yet set in stone. It must pass through the Chamber of Deputies next. According to translated text from the Luxemburger Wort, a local Luxembourg newspaper, Tanson expects “further measures to be taken by the end of the term, in 2023.”
One of Luxembourg’s three political parties, The Greens, posted a press release expressing the party’s approval of cannabis legislation. “The war on cannabis has failed. The announcements by Justice Minister Sam Tanson represent a fundamental reorientation of Luxembourg’s drug policy,” the press release states. “Finally, the use of cannabis is being regulated and a legal alternative to the black market is being created. This sets the course for a comprehensive regulation of cultivation and distribution. We expressly welcome the fact that the government will continue to push ahead with the coalition agreement project.”
Luxembourg has been previously committed to cannabis legalization in the past, having announced in August 2019 that it wanted to be the first EU country to legalize cannabis production and consumption. At the time, former Luxembourg Health Minister Etienne Schneider cited the failures of prohibition, and called upon other EU countries to loosen their own drug laws in relation to cannabis. Some reports shared that Luxembourg was using Canada’s approach to legalization. Schneider and other officials also toured a Canopy Growth Corporation facility in Smith Falls Canada back in 2018.
Previously, Luxembourg legalized medical cannabis in 2017, with its program having launched in 2018. The country could soon join other countries such as Uruguay, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2013, and Canada, which legalized in 2018, as well as numerous states in the U.S.