Growing your own weed will become legal in Luxembourg as part of a transition to become the first country in Europe to fully legalise cannabis.
Under new rules announced on Friday adults will be able to grow up to four of their own cannabis plants in their homes for personal use. Trading in seeds will also be legal, no matter how high the THC level, and it will be possible to buy the seeds online or in shops.
Ministers hope the law change will help destabilise the black market for the drug in the country, one of the smallest, least populated and wealthiest countries in the EU.
“We thought we had to act, we have an issue with drugs, and cannabis is the drug that is most used and is a large part of the illegal market,” Justice minister Sam Tanson told the Guardian.
“We want to start by allowing people to grow it at home. The idea is that a consumer is not in an illegal situation if he consumes cannabis, and that we don’t support the whole illegal chain from production to transportation to selling, where there is a lot of misery attached. We want to do everything we can to get more and more away from the illegal black market,” she said.
While home growing will be legalised, there will remain a prohibition on possession or sale of the drug, as well as the trade of cannabis or any cannabis-related products other than seeds. Under new laws, however, those found with under 3g of cannabis will no longer be given a criminal charge, but be given a €25 (about £21) fine, a steep drop from the previous fine of between €251 to €2,500 (£210 to £2,100).
Steve Rolles, a senior policy analyst at drugs charity Transform told VICE World News that legalising home growing would be the first step towards a comprehensive reform package in Luxembourg, which has a population around the size as the small UK city of Brighton.
“Home growing will make a dent in the illegal market but a fully regulated production supply set-up will make an enormous hole in the criminal drug trade,” he said. “A lot of the illegal market is controlled by organised crime groups, and is often associated with human trafficking, human slavery and violence. Any diminishment in their wealth and power is a good thing.”
“It also means that any profits accrue to legitimate businesses or the government through tax revenue so that's also a good thing, while creating economic activity and jobs,” he said.
Luxembourg committed to fully legalise cannabis two years ago. Announced as part of an agreement between the Liberals, the Social Democrats and the Greens, the policy originated from the parties’ youth wings.
Italy is moving toward cannabis decriminalisation, with a referendum likely next year, while Malta is also set to legalise growing weed according to a bill presented to parliament this month. Although weed is technically not legal it the Netherlands, the country practices a “tolerance policy” towards the drug.
In 2013, Uruguay became the first country to create a legal national marketplace for cannabis. This was followed by Canada in 2018, resulting in more than half of the market migrating into the legal, tax regulated system. Recreational cannabis is legal in 18 US states.