Luxembourg Plans to Become the First European Nation to Legalize Cannabis
The small European country announced plans to end marijuana prohibition over the next two years, and encouraged neighboring countries to join the green revolution.
Published on August 8, 2019

Government officials in the small European Union nation of Luxembourg announced plans to legalize cannabis in the coming years, a promise that would make it the very first European country to do so

According to Politico, Luxembourg Health Minister Etienne Schneider called the country’s history of cannabis criminalization a failure, and said that legalizing the production and sale of the plant would hopefully discourage youth use, bring in new taxes, and refocus law enforcement energy on more useful tasks. If all goes according to plan, Luxembourg will roll out its legalization plan over the next two years.

“This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work,” Etienne Schneider told Politico. “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.”

Under the current proposal, Luxembourg citizens over 18 years in age would be able to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis legally. And while the tax rate has not yet been set, an excise fee would be added to every sale, with that cash eventually going towards drug education and substance abuse treatment.

The final legalization proposal, which is expected to be rolled out this fall, is also predicted to contain a number of regulations unique to the EU country, including the potential for designated public consumption spaces and a ban on non-resident sales. By restricting cannabis purchases to Luxembourg residents, regulators hope to avoid a reputation for drug tourism, but could incidentally create a larger black market based on serving out-of-towners.

"Lawmakers are afraid that if something were to go wrong that people could get hurt, and they could get blamed. And so they take very conservative approaches," Jordan Wellington, who helped Colorado write its marijuana laws, told Politico about the legalization process. "And over time, as they see the problems don't develop... they slowly, over time, loosen restrictions."

Across the globe, Uruguay and Canada are the only countries that have legalized cannabis nationwide, with 11 individual US states joining the party and the Netherlands welcoming a robust grey market (while still prohibiting the cultivation and distribution of the plant). 

If Luxembourg’s legalization goals are eventually successful, experts are already expecting a bout of peer pressure to hit neighboring European nations, in a potential domino effect that could see European legalization evolve like state-specific cannabis reform in the US.

“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 medical cannabis market in Germany, told Politico.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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