Cannabis legalization is coming to one very small part of the European Union

click to enlarge Luxembourg makes a move decriminalizing cannabis.
Luxembourg makes a move decriminalizing cannabis.

Move over, Amsterdam. Europe's got a new capital of cannabis.

On Oct. 22, the government of Luxembourg announced a plan to legalize the possession and home production of cannabis for recreational use by people 18 and older. Luxembourg, wedged between France, Germany and Belgium, is the second-smallest country in the European Union by both population and land area. Despite its small stature, the country's announcement is a big deal for cannabis in Europe as it will become the first country on the continent to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

Under the proposal, adults in Luxembourg will be allowed to grow up to four plants on their property and possess up to three grams of cannabis for personal use. Public possession will remain illegal, but it will be a civil offense rather than criminal and punishable by fine. The proposal will not open up a legal marketplace for cannabis in the country. The impetus behind the action is to encourage people to move away from black market cannabis sources.

"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."

Luxembourg's proposal puts it in line with a handful of other countries that have stopped short of fully legalizing cannabis.

In 2018 the Constitutional Court of Georgia ruled that possession and consumption of cannabis was not illegal if done in private. That same year the highest court in South Africa made a similar ruling. Earlier this year, Mexico's supreme court ruled that way as well; however, it required citizens to apply for permits in order to legally possess cannabis.

Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize cannabis in 2013, not long after Washington and Colorado became the first U.S. states to do so. Canada followed suit in 2018, legalizing possession and consumption and opening a legal marketplace for sale of cannabis. ♦

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