What’s Up with Cannabis Legalization in Luxembourg?

As the country moves forward on the legalization of home grow, the government announces a long overdue draft bill to fully legalize the sale of non-medical cannabis

Just as the German government backtracked on its own widely announced timetable on passing full recreational reform (supposedly this year), the government of Luxembourg appears, finally, to be upping the ante.

Namely, last Friday, as bill to legalize home grow in Luxembourg is currently in front of the legislature for approval, the government dropped plans to create a regulatory infrastructure for the commercial sale of recreational cannabis. However on other issues, the debate seen in Germany is largely the same here. Namely, will recreational cannabis reform of any kind in any European country (save Switzerland) breach EU law?

The Plan (Subject to Change)

This is the first rough draft.

  1. Government-controlled stores via a “national chain of production and sales.”
  2. Two producers (or at least the holder of the proposed two issued licenses) would also supply 14 “public outlets,” that would be allowed to offer flower and resins of different THC and CBD percentages. These outlets would be initially limited to one per canton (or state) as follows: Diekirch, Grevenmacher, Capellen, Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Mersch, Remich and Redange and would have to follow standardized operating schedules between 12.20 and midnight (except Sundays).
  3. Cross-border visitors or workers will be prohibited from purchasing as will those under 18 years of age. Crossing the border with recreational cannabis, in line with international and EU treaties on the same, would remain verboten.
  4. Criminal sanctions would still apply in the case of the unauthorized resale and sharing of non-medicinal cannabis to either minors or non-residents.
  5. A maximum monthly sale of 30 grams of dried flower per qualifying person, and a computerized tracked system to ensure that nobody buys more than 5 grams per day. How that will be tracked against issues of privacy is a discussion that not even the Canadians have fully cracked.
  6. The state will set tariffs and taxes at critical junctures of the supply chain with the goal of creating a fully legal market that is competitive against the illicit one (which is selling cannabis at about €9.50 per gram).

Strutting Their Euro Stuff?

It’s not like this is actually a completely surprising development. The “new” governing coalition in the country promised the same by the end of their five-year legislative term. That of course is now ending. The likelihood that somehow the Luxembourgian government will suddenly push forward on the subject before the next elections and actually get something done, in other words, is low. But at least the government did not back out of its word.

The entire discussion is a matter of political zeitgeist and won’t go away until it is solved, as politicians just about everywhere are realizing. See Mexico, where the Supreme Court has now twice (or three times depending on what is being counted) forced the still reluctant political class to act (and the entire issue is still pending).

In Germany, where the Ministry of Health just pulled back from their own brinkmanship on the issue, it is likely that no real commercial market will be allowed to flourish, but clearly the idea of regional trials is hanging in the air.

In the Czech Republic also, there have been more than mutterings about taking their own approach, no matter what Germany may or may not decide to do. Portugal also has recently signalled (more) delay.

The reality is, however, no matter what one wants to call it, is that the idea of a non-monopolized, fully licensed, and operational recreational cannabis industry is off the table everywhere in Europe including Switzerland and except Holland for the next five years. And even here, there have been continual delays, for many different reasons, starting solely with domestic compliance.

Doom and Gloom? Really?

The fact of the matter is, as the German government has clearly recognized, is that the gaps, potholes, and other issues now faced rather publicly by the Canadians (if not the United States) are just still too bumpy right now to jump wholesale into the next cannabis dimension.

It is not just the status and definition of THC, either. CBD remains in a strange limbo at the European level over determinations about whether any part of the cannabis plant, in whole or in part, is actually a “novel food.”

The inter-relationship with a formalized medical market, unlike anywhere else in the world, is also going to cause problems.

There are several very positive takeaways to this entire discussion, of course, depending on where you sit in the overall supply chain and on what side of it. Medical suppliers who figure out a way to get their products to more patients and have a direct relationship with at least one cultivator, plus have the capital to spend to get there will do well. Everyone else will go out of business.

The last six years of the legal market in Germany at least have repeatedly taught the same lessons – and which now are beginning to shake out more dramatically. There was never going to be an easy transition from medical only to recreational in this environment.

These are nothing but the growing pains.


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