Minister of Health Etienne Schneider recently spoke to POLITICO about the ongoing legislative process concerning recreational cannabis, with which he hopes to improve health and security issues.
As already announced earlier this year, Luxembourg will be the first country in the European Union to legalise the substance entirely. The Minister of Health announced the start of a legislative procedure this autumn, hoping to complete the draft within two years.
The government is currently working on the reversal of a decade-long drug policy that banned the substance. Schneider told POLITICO that “this drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work”.
The main reason behind Schneider’s strong advocacy for the legalisation is health. He believes that prohibition makes weed more interesting to young people, leading them to the black market. There they are in contact with drug dealers that often provide cannabis of “unknown quality” – often contaminated with lead or glass particles.
Schneider explained that he does not want to simply declare the substance legal. He is planning a highly regulated structure behind it: age restrictions, taxes, and quality checks are only a few of the conditions he wishes to impose. A draft legislation is expected to be presented later this year, providing details on the future framework behind the legalisation.
Schneider also expressed his awareness towards the country’s neighbours’ concerns of a potential domino effect. European countries have many different views on cannabis, and a consensus on recreational cannabis is far from reached. He therefore hopes to prohibit purchases by non-residents to avoid drug tourism, even though it will be a challenge to keep borders open and regulating the market.
“I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude towards drugs”, he told POLITICO. Knowing that a black market might open for non-residents, he aims to get other EU countries on the same boat to avoid an “accidental spillover”.