The country has been on a mission to legalize marijuana since 2014, but with the gradual relaxation of precautionary measures in other countries it may be more difficult for Luxembourg to remain ahead.
Luxembourg was largely expected to lead Europe’s recreational debate, but it now seems that they may be relinquishing that position.
The European cannabis debate is currently amusing, especially now that news of Germany’s determination to go through with recreational reform has surfaced with the official formation of the next coalition government. Specifically, although proposing change while assuming power is a popular, if not unavoidable, trend at this time, no one really wants to be the first to do so.
That prize will very definitely belong to the Swiss, who are pushing forward with the nitty gritty details necessary to establish a new market as of next year in Europe (outside Holland). Switzerland, on the other hand, is notable for not being a member of the European Union. And, within such nations, no politician has fully grasped how to phrase such positive movement through official legislation, at least until the German choice to go with recreational.
That fact was shown even more recently, as Luxembourg’s government, which vowed in 2018 as part of its platform to legalize recreational usage by 2023, has now taken a significant step back. In reality, the country’s first excursion into this debate will be to enable people to produce four plants on their own.
In other words, despite all the hullabaloo, this is a major, if not anti-climatic, step in a scenario now rife with the inevitability of change (even if not in Luxembourg first).
The First Baby Steps in Luxembourg
What’s odd about all of this is that Luxembourg authorities have made it clear for the last three years that they are “studying” the Canadian model. What has emerged is far more akin to the Dutch (at least so far), if not the evolving situation in other European countries (see Malta, which allowed home-grow this year and appears to be on the verge of even more reform by the end of the year, not to mention Italy, which appears to be on the same track).
The seed market is what the government is willing to control. Plants cultivated in private residences, out of sight and out of reach of children, will have to be grown from domestic (brick-and-mortar or online) or even international seeds (see Holland, for starters).
Meanwhile, a strategy for national seed production for commercial purposes will be developed. As Germany now apparently takes the lead on formulating policies that will most likely be duplicated throughout Europe, this is surely the next phase the Luxembourgians envision the market maturing towards.
The bill also proposes decriminalizing the possession of up to three grams of flower in public, with offenders facing fines similar to those imposed for cigarette violations.
Of course, this development is more than just an effort to save face. The nation is making progress toward comprehensive cannabis liberalization, although slowly. In the interim, Luxembourg will build a longer-term infrastructure in preparation for the launch of a commercial market. Not to mention countering the government’s massive investment in medicinal cannabis, which was selling for 100 euros per gram as of this year (wholesale).
What is Most Likely to Occur
While this is just speculation at this moment, the exciting thing about Luxembourg’s evolution is that it might wind up looking a lot like a cross between the Swiss and German markets. The sale of CBD plants became legal in Switzerland in 2017, spawning a cottage economy that has clearly laid the groundwork for the recreational market, which is expected to start in the first half of 2022.
The Swiss also seem to be actively developing a local market for all cannabis sources for this new domestic market. All cannabis used in this national experiment must be grown inside Switzerland’s borders.
It is quite conceivable that the Luxembourg market will ultimately resemble the one in the United States. This also maintains the debate over the cannabis tourist trade in limbo, at least until someone other than the Dutch takes up the issue. Indeed, there remains a stigma associated with marijuana tourism in Holland that persists in Luxembourg, despite the fact that this is an apparent solution to repair COVID-induced harm to this sector of the European economy right now.
Whatever the case may be, it is apparent that no European country’s leaders, especially those who come to power on a pro-cannabis platform, will be able to avoid the topic totally.
Luxembourg, on the other hand, will not be “first” in the EU, much alone Europe. As of current reports, the distinction will probably definitely be between the Swiss and the Germans.