Cannabis policies in European countries are evolving rapidly, creating a complex dynamic between individual countries and federal governance. Luxembourg is the latest European country to legalize cannabis, albeit without a sales market. Find out more about this development below.
How Did Luxembourg Legalize Cannabis?
Luxembourg has been at the forefront of the cannabis legalization movement in Europe for several years. The country first expressed its intention to legalize cannabis in some capacity three years ago, making it one of the earliest European countries to consider such a move. In 2018, Luxembourg passed a medical legalization bill as a pilot program, which was unanimously approved by the government.
By the end of 2018, the government was already working towards formalizing recreational legalization. The coalition government comprising the Socialist Working Party, the Democratic Party, and the Greens released initial plans that aimed to establish a commercial market for cannabis. This made Luxembourg the first EU country to propose such a concept.
However, it has taken several years for Luxembourg to finalize its cannabis legalization process. Part of the delay was due to the need to establish its own regulations, while also ensuring compliance with EU mandates. Luxembourg now joins Malta and Germany in legalizing cannabis without a commercial market.
Justice Minister Sam Tanson, when announcing the cannabis legalization, emphasized that the country’s approach aimed to reduce risks and prevent crime. Tanson referred to the complete criminalization of cannabis as an “absolute failure.”
What Has Luxembourg Legalized Regarding Cannabis?
Luxembourg has not enacted full legalization of cannabis. However, it has legalized certain aspects related to cannabis. The recently passed legislation focuses on personal cultivation of cannabis. As a result, it permits the legal cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis for personal purposes. The legislation does not address commercial activities, meaning it pertains solely to personal use. The law applies to individuals aged 18 and above.
The bill received a 38-22 vote in favor of legalization in the Chamber of Deputies on June 28th. Each household is allowed to cultivate up to four plants, as long as they are not visible from public roads. Outdoor cultivation is more restricted but is permitted if the outdoor area is adjacent to the private residence and meets all other requirements.
The law sets a possession limit of 3 grams outside of a private residence. The focus of the law is to encourage residents to consume cannabis within their homes rather than in public spaces. Violation of this possession limit carries fines ranging from 25 to 500 Euros. Alternatively, a warning can be issued with a fine of 145 Euros. The warning can be given by judicial police, Grand Duchy police, or Customs and Excise Administration agents. These penalties do not apply to medical patients with valid prescriptions.
The law imposes stricter penalties for certain situations. For instance, using cannabis in the presence of a minor or within a workplace or school can result in a prison sentence of 8 days to 6 months and fines ranging from 251 to 2,500 Euros. The law also includes strict penalties for cultivating more than the permitted amount, aiming to discourage any illicit market. Possession of more than four plants or violation of cultivation laws can lead to fines ranging from 500 to 250,000 Euros and/or a prison sentence of 8 days to 5 years.
The law primarily focuses on outlining punishments for infractions and provides limited details beyond cultivation and possession limits. The main takeaway is that personal cultivation of cannabis is now legal within certain parameters.
Cannabis Legalization in Europe
Luxembourg’s approach, legalizing cannabis without a commercial market, is not unique to the country. Malta became the first EU member state to legalize cannabis in December 2021 through Bill No. 241. Malta’s legislation is slightly more permissive in terms of possession outside of private residences, allowing adults aged 18 and above to cultivate four plants at home, store up to 50 grams, and carry up to seven grams while in public. Unlike Luxembourg, Malta permits the establishment of “associations” that function as cannabis social clubs, allowing members to cultivate and share cannabis. Sale and other forms of procurement are still prohibited.
Germany also made headlines for its efforts to establish a cannabis sales market within the EU. However, the EU’s legal restrictions prevented the country from moving forward with this plan. As of now, Germany has not passed any official legislation for cannabis legalization.
Switzerland, although not bound by EU laws, implemented a limited cannabis pilot program in Zurich. This program allows for the sale of cannabis in a restricted capacity. Switzerland opted for this approach instead of full legalization from the outset.
It’s worth noting that Georgia was the first European country to legalize recreational cannabis through a Supreme Court ruling in 2018, preceding Uruguay and Canada. However, Georgia has yet to update its laws to allow for cultivation, purchase, or sale, rendering cannabis legally accessible but with no legal means of obtaining it.
1. Is cannabis fully legalized in Luxembourg?
No, Luxembourg has not enacted full legalization of cannabis. The recent law only permits personal cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis.
2. Can individuals buy cannabis in Luxembourg?
No, the new law does not establish a commercial market for cannabis. Personal cultivation for personal use is the primary focus of the legislation.
3. What are the penalties for cannabis infractions in Luxembourg?
Penalties for cannabis infractions in Luxembourg include fines ranging from 25 to 500 Euros for possession and cultivation offenses. Stricter penalties, such as imprisonment and higher fines, apply to situations involving minors or violations within workplaces or schools.
4. Are there any exceptions to the cannabis law for medical patients?
Yes, medical patients with valid prescriptions are exempt from the penalties outlined in the law.
5. Can individuals cultivate cannabis outdoors in Luxembourg?
Outdoor cultivation is limited and subject to specific requirements. The outdoor growing area must be adjacent to the individual’s private residence and comply with other regulations.
6. Can individuals possess cannabis outside of their private residences?
Individuals are allowed to possess up to 3 grams of cannabis outside of their private residences. The law encourages consumption within private spaces rather than in public areas.
7. Which European country first legalized cannabis without a commercial market?
Malta became the first EU country to legalize cannabis without a formal market in December 2021.
Luxembourg’s cannabis legalization exemplifies the changing attitudes towards cannabis in the EU. While recreational sales markets have yet to emerge in European countries, the trend towards personal cultivation and use is gaining momentum. It remains to be seen when a country will challenge EU regulations and establish a legal cannabis sales market.
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