Luxembourg Unveils Proposals for Cannabis Legalisation Law

Ministers in Luxembourg have outlined proposals for the country’s upcoming legalisation of “recreational” cannabis.

The justice minister Félix Braz and health minister Etienne Schneider have elaborated on the government’s plans to legalise the production, sale, and use of cannabis for recreational purposes – after the move was announced last November.

After returning from a research trip to Canada - where cannabis has been legal since October 2018 – the ministers stated that Luxembourg will permit adults aged 18 and over to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis while in public. Minors aged between 12 and 17 will not be criminalised for possessing up to five grams of the drug, they said, but the ministers did not specify what consequences they may face.

The government also intends to introduce strict regulations on the sale of cannabis. The THC content of cannabis will have an upper limit, which has yet to be fixed, and people who sell cannabis outside of the legal framework will face harsh punishments - "even harsher penalties than now", according to reports.

Additionally, only Luxembourg residents will be permitted to purchase cannabis – a decision that may have been made following concern from authorities in neighbouring France and Germany. Authorities are yet to decide if residents will be permitted to cultivate cannabis for their personal use.

Government sources report that legalisation will be “much better” than decriminalisation as it will “remove consumers from the illicit market, [reduce] related psychological and physical risks, and fight crime at the supply level”.

The ministers intend to present a preliminary concept of the bill for parliament to consider by autumn this year, RTL reports, with the goal of legalisation being implemented by the end of 2023 at the latest.

If no other European country legalises cannabis before that time, Luxembourg will be the first nation in the continent to have legalised the drug for "recreational" non-medical purposes. Contrary to common belief, the commercial cultivation and distribution of recreational cannabis are not legal in the Netherlands, although the country of "coffeeshop" fame will be trialling a regulated production model in some parts of the country later this year.

As TalkingDrugs has reported, this is one of several recent drug policy changes in Luxembourg. The country’s lawmakers unanimously passed a bill in 2018 to legalise the drug for medical purposes, and - in January 2019 - the country opened its second safer drug consumption room, in a bid to reduce drug-related deaths and harms.