Luxembourg is currently taking steps to become the first country in the European Union to legalize cannabis. The small country, whose population is roughly the size of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, could have a large effect on EU drug policy if all goes according to plan.
The Luxembourgian Health Minister is expected to announce its proposal for a regulated recreational cannabis market this fall. The legislative shenanigans will kick off shortly after that, with the hopes that the bill can become a law in the next two years,.
While details are still vague on the plan, Politico describes a “highly regulated” structure where licenses will be issued for production, but where home cultivation would be banned. Interestingly, unlike legal cannabis markets in North America, the law may allow for adults 18 and over to possess and use weed.
“This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work,” Health Minister Etienne Schneider told Politico. “Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people.”
One challenge for Luxembourg in its cannabis regulation is figuring out whether to share it with its neighbors. While the country itself is only about 600,000 people, roughly 200,000 commute there every day from adjacent countries.
Schneider has said he’s talking to health ministers in other European countries, but it is expected that Luxembourg will not allow sale of cannabis to non-citizens.
Some other European countries might feel a little uneasy about their neighbor slinging weed. According to Malte Goetz, a lawyer who specializes in medical marijuana in Germany, there’s a fear that Luxembourg could start a trend in Europe.
“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,” he said.
North America has taken the lead in cannabis legalization, with 11 U.S. states and Canada legalizing and Mexico talking about it, while Europe has lagged behind. The U.K. has a fairly limp medical marijuana system while Ireland and France only started experimenting with MMJ this year. So if Luxembourg pulls this off, they could become the Colorado of the EU.
Photo via Flickr user Flavio Ensiki