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Luxembourg Publishes Details on Domestic Recreational Cannabis Plan |

It is quite funny that the European cannabis conversation right now has a humorous aspect, especially since the German decision on recreational reform was announced with the official creation of the next coalition. Promising reform when entering power seems to be a popular choice, even though it is an almost inevitable outcome at this stage. However, no one really wants the first place.

The honor of Europe’s most successful country (beyond Holland), will probably go to the Swiss. They continue to work on the little details to build a new market starting next year. The European Union is known for being a non-member of Switzerland. Another problem is that, until now, in these countries, not a single politician has ever been able to structure such forward progress into formal statutes.

That reality has been made even more clear during the last week as Luxembourg’s government, which promised as part of its platform in 2018 that it would legalize recreational use by 2023, has just taken a rather large sidestep. Namely, the country’s first foray into this discussion will be in fact just to allow adults the right to self-cultivate four plants.

This is, in other terms, a dramatic, but not necessarily anti-climatic twist in an already fraught situation that seems to be destined for reform, even if in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg: First Baby Steps

What is so ironic about all of this is the fact that for the past three years, officials in Luxembourg have made it very public that they were “studying” the Canadian model. It has evolved to look more like the Dutch, at least until now, if not as the changing situation in other European nations (see Malta which permitted home-grow last year and seems to be on the brink of even greater reforms by the end the year).

The government has decided to regulate the seed market. Privately grown plants will need to come from seeds that have been purchased either locally (in brick-and mortar establishments or online) or from overseas (see Holland for an example). 

Plans will soon be developed for national seed production for commercial purposes. As Germany is now leading the European effort to establish policies, this is presumably the next stage the Luxembourgians envision for the market.

It also provides for the decriminalization of possession up to 3 grams of cannabis if it is caught in public. The law will punish those who do so with a similar fine as tobacco violations.

This development is more than just a face-saving step. Although progress is slow in the direction of full cannabis reform, it’s happening. Luxembourg is creating long-term infrastructure to allow a market for cannabis products to be launched. The huge government expenditure for medical cannabis was offset by the fact that it cost 100 Euros per gram (wholesale) at this time.

How likely is it that this will happen?

This is all speculation, but the intriguing thing about Luxembourgian developments is that they may look very much like the Swiss and German markets. After 2017, the Swiss legalized the sale CBD plants. This created an industry that was able to support the new recreational market, set for launch in 2022. 

Also, the Swiss appear to have created a new market in order to source all their cannabis. Indeed, all cannabis bound for this national trial must be sourced within Switzerland’s borders.

Very likely, the Luxembourg market will be very similar. It also means that the debate about cannabis tourism in Luxembourg is still open to interpretation, at least until another Dutch speaker addresses the issue. The stigma surrounding pot tourism persists in Holland, and it is still a problem in Luxembourg. However, this can be used to address the COVID-induced damages to every sector of European economies.

No matter what, however, it is clear that no country’s politicians in Europe, particularly if they come to power with a pro-cannabis plank, can entirely duck the conversation. 

Luxembourg, however, is not going to be “first” within the EU, much less Europe. According to recent reports, that distinction is almost certain to be shared by the Swiss and Germans.