News, Politics

Luxembourg Is the First European Country to Legalize Growing and Using Cannabis

November 26, 2021 03:00 pm ET
Luxembourg Is the First European Country to Legalize Growing and Using Cannabis

Cannabis has remained largely illegal in Europe—at least up until now. Luxembourg, a small European country that is mostly rural and forested, is set to become the first in Europe to legalize both growing but consumption of cannabis, according to reporting by The Guardian. Once the revolutionary legislation takes effect, adults 18 and older in Luxembourg will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants in their homes and gardens. 

Is Luxembourg Following in the Steps of South Africa?

Luxembourg’s approach to cannabis legalization appears to be similar to South Africa’s. In 2020, South Africa announced that its citizens would be allowed to grow one plant per person in a household, with up to four plants per household. In justifying the legislation, lawmakers explained that citizens’ right to grow and use cannabis fell under the right to privacy. 

South Africa allows its citizens to grow and consume in a private capacity but does not allow for the sale and purchase of cannabis seeds, flower, or other cannabinoid-containing products (besides CBD isolate). The problem with this is that South Africans can’t legally purchase the seeds they need to legally grow cannabis, forcing many to turn to the illicit market. If Luxembourg is following a similar path, will they end up in the same nonsensical situation? Actually, this is very unlikely. 

While Luxembourg and South Africa appear to be implementing similar strategies, there are some noteworthy differences—which may well demonstrate the differing capabilities of nations with varying economies. Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world but also one of the wealthiest. In contrast, South Africa is one of the largest and most diverse nations with lots of potential but even more debt. 

How Is Luxembourg’s Legalization the Superior Approach?

Luxembourg will allow trading in seeds without any restrictions on the quantity or level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the seed may reap. Unlike South Africa, Luxembourg has made it easy for its citizens to access the seeds they need to grow their plants at home. The Guardian reports that Luxembourg citizens will be allowed to purchase seeds from stores, online or in-person, as well as import them from sources outside of Luxembourg. 

Justice Minister Sam Tanson stated, “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.” Tanson went on to explain, “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.” 

South Africa’s approach only drove more people to the illicit market in order to purchase the seeds they need for growing, but Luxembourg understands that one can not be allowed to grow cannabis without having legal access to the means to do so. In terms of growing cannabis, both countries now allow their citizens to grow at home both indoors or outdoors, including on/in balconies, terraces, and gardens. 

Another difference between South Africa’s and Luxembourg’s approach is that South Africans are allowed to give small quantities of cannabis to friends and family for free, while a legal prohibition on transport and trade in cannabis or cannabis products (other than seeds) remains in place. Despite also maintaining prohibition on transportation, Luxembourg softened its criminalization of transporting up to 3 grams, which will henceforth be classified as a misdemeanor rather than a criminal offense.

Luxembourg will also reduce fines. One could previously be fined between €251 and €2,500, but residents are now looking at a fine of €25 for possession of under 3 grams. Tanson explains, “Above three grams, nothing changes, you will be considered a dealer,” and that “nothing changes for car drivers either: there is still zero tolerance.” 

Cannabis Regulation Will Reduce the Illicit Market

According to The Guardian, the government of Luxembourg wanted to liberalize consumption and cultivation “within one’s own four walls.” They have more plans to re-regulate how cannabis is handled as part of a larger plan to keep consumers away from the illegal market. Forming part of this larger plan are smaller plans for state-regulated production and distribution in order to ensure that the products are of good quality and that revenues from sales get put to good use. Revenues will be primarily invested in “prevention, education, and healthcare in the broad field of addiction.” 

In addition to the pro-cannabis strides being taken in Luxembourg, the country will join Canada, Uruguay, and 11 American states at a UN convention aimed at controlling narcotic drugs. The convention will require signatories to limit “exclusively for medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import distribution, trade, employment and possession of drugs (including cannabis).”

Time will tell how effective Luxembourg’s approach will be. But compared to South Africa, their approach already seems to be more careful and thought-through—especially when you consider the fact that being able to purchase seeds for growing from multiple sources makes cannabis more affordable and easily accessible. If you’re a citizen of Luxembourg gearing up to start your own cannabis garden, check out this guide on the differences between cannabis strains

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