By Emily Ledger
Following a significant shift in the stance on Cannabis in Luxembourg over the last few years, Luxembourg revealed plans to legalise Cannabis at the end of last year. This week, Luxembourg’s Health Minister, Etienne Schneider, has called on other EU countries, specifically their neighbours, to follow their lead.
Members of the Government coalition, published a 250-page policy document back in December last year, partly highlighting the plans of legalisation. Since then, Policy makers have been researching how to effectively bring the legislation into effect.
The coalition government in Luxembourg is made up of the Liberals, the Social Democrats, and the Greens – all of whom included Cannabis policy reform in their manifestos.
Health Minister, Etienne Schneider, told Politico:
“This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work. Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people.”
The draft legislation for the change is scheduled to be published later this year. It is expected to provide more detail on sale conditions and tax levels. and is likely to include a plans to discourage Cannabis tourism.
Schneider, and Justice Minister, Félix Braz, made the proposal to legalise the entire Cannabis market, with certain restrictions. Under the proposal, the sale of Cannabis would be permitted to adults (probably aged 18 and over). It will also, most likely, be prohibited for tourists to purchase Cannabis in Luxembourg.
Despite the further confirmation of legalisation, it may still be a couple of years before the change is made. This is because of the regulatory and legal framework that needs to be approved and put in place.
“Legalising cannabis requires many more steps than just declaring the substance legal. You need an entire regulatory market, including setting taxes and quality checks.”
Many people believe that the step taken by Luxembourg will cause a “Domino Effect” and cause other EU countries to begin debating the issue more seriously. However, Luxembourg’s neighbouring countries are concerned about the possibility of Cannabis products crossing the boarder to their own countries.
Estimates show that around 200,000 people travel to Luxembourg from neighbouring countries for work, every day. Being an EU member, surrounded by fellow EU member countries – France, Belgium and Germany – Luxembourg has relaxed, open boarders.
Schneider has admitted that this is where one of the biggest hurdles will lie when trying to manoeuvre the new legislation. Luxembourg will aim to keep borders open, and prevent the risk of Cannabis being transported into neighbouring countries. This is most likely the reason for prohibiting sale to non-residents.
However, Schneider is hoping to get neighbouring countries on board:
“Our drug policies were not very successful. I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”
Currently, Luxembourg is one of the EU countries to have decriminalised Cannabis use. This means that people won’t be prosecuted for personal use or possession of small amounts of Cannabis. However, buying, selling and growing Cannabis remains illegal.
A number of European countries, including Portugal (who decriminalised all drugs in 2001); the Netherlands; and parts of Spain have decriminalised the use of Cannabis (some in designated smoking areas). However, Luxembourg will be the first to completely legalise the controlled substance.
Having said this, some believe that the recent wave of medicinal Cannabis trials in countries like France, Ireland and the UK, will eventually lead to the legalisation of recreational Cannabis. Three cross-party politicians from the UK estimated that Cannabis will be legal in the UK within a decade, following an educational trip to assess Canada’s legal Cannabis industry,
Alexandra Curley, Head of Insights at Prohibition Partners, said:
“Everybody’s just waiting for that first person to take the plunge and see how it works out.”
Curley compared the countries of the European Union to the Stated in America, implying that a policy change in one of the countries may soon spread to other member states. Recreational Cannabis is now legal in 11 US states. However, French, German, British and Irish leaders have insisted that medical exploration is not the start of recreational Cannabis reform.