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This Tiny Country Will Be the First in Europe to Legalize Weed

“I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs," said the nation's health minister.

by David Gilbert
Aug 8 2019, 10:48am

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Luxembourg will soon become the first European country to legalize cannabis, and it wants all its EU neighbors to follow suit.

Draft legislation is expected to be published later this year outlining the government’s plans to make it legal to produce, sell and consume weed.

“This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work, forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people,” Luxembourg’s Health Minister Etienne Schneider told Politico. “I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”

The law will make it legal for people over the age of 18 to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, but will not allow individuals to grow their own.

The cultivation and sale of the drug will be highly regulated, overseen by a cannabis agency and all taxes generated from the sales will go into drug education and treatment for drug addiction.

It is hoped the draft bill would become law within two years.

In a bid to discourage drug tourism, the government is expected to limit the sale of weed in the country to residents. In neighboring Netherlands, Amsterdam has a thriving drug tourism trade, even though the possession, sale, and consumption of weed is technically illegal. The government there has a “tolerance policy.”

Luxembourg is a tiny country with a population of fewer than 600,000, nestled between France, Germany and Belgium. Despite its size, Schneider is hoping that Luxembourg’s decision will encourage the other 27 member states to more seriously consider cannabis regulation.

Right now, all EU Member States treat possession of cannabis for personal use as an offense, but over a third do not allow prison as a penalty for minor offenses. In many of the countries where the law allows imprisonment for such cannabis possession, national guidelines advise against it, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction says.

In some European countries, there has been a push to create so-called “cannabis social clubs” where participants claim that if the cultivation of one cannabis plant is tolerated for one person’s use, then 20 plants together might be tolerated for a club of 20 people.

No European government has accepted this, though some regions in Spain have decriminalized these clubs.

Outside the EU, there has been a growing trend towards the legalization of cannabis. Starting with Uruguay in 2013, Canada followed suit in 2018 and In total, 11 U.S. states have legalized the use of cannabis. The majority of Democratic candidates vying for the nomination in the 2020 U.S. presidential election have called for weed to be legalized.

Cover: 21 June 2019, Brandenburg, Vetschau: A hemp plant grows on the edge of a field. Photo by: Patrick Pleul/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

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