Luxembourg has called on neighbouring countries to relax their cannabis laws after confirming plans to become the first European nation to legalize recreational marijuana use.
It will begin the legislation process in the next few months and it aims to make adult-use cannabis production and consumption legal within two years. It will allow anyone over the age of 18 to purchase marijuana in stores across the country, following in the footsteps of Uruguay and Canada.
However, foreigners will be prohibited from buying cannabis, as Luxembourg does not want to become a marijuana tourism hotspot like Amsterdam. Yet it still urged fellow European countries to consider legalizing it.
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.”
That is currently the prevailing attitude in many U.S. states, which are legalizing or decriminalizing adult-use cannabis and trying to compensate communities that were disproportionately affected by prohibition.
Schneider said cannabis is widely available on the black market, and he wants to protect residents from having to interact with drug dealers that provide unregulated and potentially harmful cannabis.
Towards the end of 2018, Luxembourg previously issued a 246-page missive to outline how its legal recreational cannabis industry will be regulated and how supply will be controlled. It has continued hard on draft legislation since then, and it should be ready within the next couple of months.
Malte Goetz, a lawyer covering Germany’s medical cannabis market, said Luxembourg’s decision would pile pressure on other EU member states to follow suit.
Luxembourg is a small, landlocked country with a population of 600,000 people, so it will not be a massive market for the global cannabis trade. However, it is a wealthy, influential nation and it borders two of the world’s largest economies in Germany and France.
If it legalizes recreational cannabis within two years, the knock-on effect across the continent could be huge. All three parties that form Luxembourg’s coalition government included legalization in their manifestos, so the bill seems certain to go through.
Luxembourg legalized medicinal marijuana last year and it has signed an exclusive supply deal with Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX: ACB) to meet demand among patients.