By Luke Sumpter

The tiny European nation of Luxembourg has taken a big step in becoming the second country in the EU to legalize recreational cannabis, following Malta’s daring move in 2021[1].

Deputies of the Luxembourg government approved bill 8033[2] on Wednesday, 28th of June, with 38 voting for and 22 against. The new legislation will allow adults to legally grow up to four plants at home in a secure location and possess up to three grams in public.

Sam Tanson, Minister of Justice, celebrated the approval, calling the previous drug policy “an absolute failure” and stating: “We must dare to take another path”. Member of Parliament Dan Diancalana also weighed in, commenting: “The consumption ban has not stopped people from using cannabis. It is a fact that the purely repressive approach has remained a failure so far”.

Cannabis Reform: Luxembourg Legalizes Home Cultivation
Cannabis Reform: Luxembourg Legalizes Home Cultivation

Despite Luxembourg’s small population size of just over 640,000, a 2019 report[3] showed that 23% of citizens between the ages of 15 and 64 have used cannabis. Ministers hope that homegrown herb will give users access to superior products and reduce dependency on the black market. Once published, the new legislation could allow citizens to start growing legally as early as July this year.

Freedom to Grow: What Will It Look Like in Luxembourg?

Bill 8033 will allow home growers to relax while tending to their plants. However, they’ll still need to abide by specific cultivation guidelines. The new legislation means growers are only allowed to raise plants from seeds. This forbids any form of tissue culture, including cloning, that dedicated hobbyists use to overcome genetic diversity in plants and hold on to specific phenotypes.

Growers must also ensure that plants are concealed from public view[4]. This rules out balconies and some exposed gardens as legal cultivation locations. Citizens must only grow in their permanent home, which closes the potential loophole of cultivators growing more than four plants across multiple locations.

Bill 8033 Maintains Stringent Cannabis Penalties

The new legislation provides groundbreaking liberties but still enforces strict penalties[5] for breaches. Cannabis users that smoke the herb outside of their home risk a fine of up to €500. Those who buy, possess, or transport more than three grams face a maximum punishment of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to €2,500.

Stringent cannabis penalties will stay
Stringent cannabis penalties will stay

The freedom to grow up to four plants and possess a small quantity of cannabis doesn’t quite qualify as legalization to some, including the director of the National Centre of Addiction Prevention, Elena Bienfait. “It is not legalisation, it is regulation”, commented Bienfait, adding, “It is very different and we must not confuse the two”.

Bienfait holds the position[6] that true legalization cannot occur without employing systematic and structured prevention. However, lawmakers have considered general public safety in the new legislation; sales will be tightly controlled through licenced dispensaries, and education campaigns will promote responsible use.

Several Political Parties Remain Dissatisfied for Different Reasons

Despite celebration from some political figures, numerous political parties and leaders are displeased with the approved bill. Deputy and member of the Christian People’s Social Party Gilles Roth stated[7]: “The signal to the youth is that drug use is not bad”, adding, “It is an experiment with us and our health, the long-term consequences are not considered”.

In contrast, MP Marc Goergen of the Pirate Party believes the bill doesn’t achieve enough, branding it “false legalisation” that fails to liberate the herb properly. Goergen expressed[8]: “We can debate it for hours, but the fact is that cannabis is consumed daily”.

From left to right: Gilles Roth, Sam Tanson and Marc Goergen
From left to right: Gilles Roth, Sam Tanson and Marc Goergen

Bill 8033 Builds From Past Progress

This new reform, although too much for some and not enough for others, has emerged from Luxembourg’s legislative evolution surrounding cannabis. Let’s take a look at what pushed cannabis laws in the country to this point:

  • 2021: This year saw the initial development of the content within bill 8033. In October of 2021, the government announced[9] plans to overhaul the nation’s approach to recreational cannabis use and cultivation.
  • 2017: The government launched a pilot project for medical cannabis. In November of that year, health minister Lydia Mutsch announced[10]: “The medical use of cannabis can reduce pain and suffering in patients, who don’t respond to the usual treatment anymore”. She went on to discuss the roles of THC and CBD in assisting certain illnesses.

Luxembourg Cannabis Policy Is Moving in the Right Direction

Bill 8033 has given the citizens of Luxembourg a breath of fresh air. People can soon freely grow cannabis plants at home without the threat of prosecution, provided they adhere to the strict regulations at play. The new legislation also gives them the right to possess small amounts of the herb.

However, the new laws leave much to be desired by some. Several political voices fear the widespread misuse of the substance, whereas others accuse the bill of providing a form of soft legalization that still impedes the rights of citizens.

Whatever your view on the matter, this policy places the small nation of Luxembourg leaps and bounds ahead of other European nations when it comes to the freedom to grow.

External Resources:
  1. Malta becomes first EU nation to legalise cannabis
  2. RTL Today - It's official: Luxembourg legalises cultivation and consumption of cannabis at home
  3. RTL Today - It's official: Luxembourg legalises cultivation and consumption of cannabis at home
  4. Vote de plusieurs projets de loi, dont ceux relatifs au cannabis récréatif et aux ASBL/ fondations - Ministère de la Justice // Le gouvernement luxembourgeois
  5. RTL Today - It's official: Luxembourg legalises cultivation and consumption of cannabis at home
  6. Culture du cannabis à domicile approuvée: «Ce n’est pas une légalisation, c’est une réglementation» | Virgule
  7. Privater Cannabis-Anbau von vier Pflanzen ist künftig erlaubt | Luxemburger Wort
  8. RTL Today - It's official: Luxembourg legalises cultivation and consumption of cannabis at home
  9. Luxembourg first in Europe to legalise growing and using cannabis | Luxembourg | The Guardian
  10. Cannabis for medicinal purposes pilot project | Delano News
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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