Luxembourg Likely to Become First European Country to Legalize Growing and Using Cannabis
Luxembourg does not intend to legalize adult-use cannabis retail sales, but would allow adults to buy pot seeds and grow up to four plants at home.
Published on October 25, 2021

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The tiny country of Luxembourg is on track to become the first European nation to legalize adult-use cannabis

Last Friday, government justice and homeland security ministers revealed a new proposal that would make it legal for adults over 18 to grow, possess, and smoke weed. But unlike the robust legalization laws adopted in Canada and over a dozen US states, this proposed law would continue to prohibit the sale of cannabis flower, edibles, or other products, and cops would still be allowed to bust people for possessing weed outside of their homes.

The proposed law, which is part of a larger package of criminal justice reforms, aims to crack down on Luxembourg's black market weed dealers by allowing citizens to grow their own weed. If passed, the law would allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, either indoors, in a home garden, or on an outside balcony or terrace. 

“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,” said Justice Minister Sam Tamson to The Guardian. “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.”

In the US, both Vermont and Washington DC passed similar laws that legalized personal possession and use without also legalizing retail sales. These halfway measures did nothing to cut down on black market sales, and in fact created a new “grey market” where businesses offer “free” cannabis in exchange for donations or purchases of cheap merch. Vermont eventually saw the error of its ways and voted to legalize adult-use sales, but the federal government has blocked DC from doing the same.

Luxembourg's new proposal contains a unique provision that officials hope will prevent black and grey market sales. Although sales of cannabis flower and products would remain strictly illegal, the law would allow adults to import pot seeds from other countries, or trade them with other adults. Eventually, the country plans to create regulations allowing local businesses to grow, produce, and sell cannabis seeds, but these plans have been delayed indefinitely by the pandemic.

And although adults would be able to legally grow and smoke weed at home, they could also get busted for taking their home-grown flower out of the house. The penalty for possessing up to three grams of pot in public has been reduced to a civil offense punishable by a €25 Euro fine, down from €251 to €2,500 today. But anyone caught with more than three grams, or for selling or even gifting weed, can still be arrested and sent to prison.

“Above three grams, nothing changes, you will be considered a dealer,” said Tamson to The Guardian. “Nothing changes for car drivers either: there is still zero tolerance.”

In order to become law, the legalization proposal must still be approved by the country’s Parliament, but sources believe that it will pass. If it does, Luxembourg will become the third country to end cannabis prohibition, following Uruguay, which legalized adult-use sales in 2013, and Canada, which legalized in 2018.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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