Luxembourg to become first country in Europe to legalize cannabis

Move to permit plant after government defeated in parliamentary vote to decriminalise use of the drug Luxembourg to become first country in Europe to legalize cannabis Luxembourg is to become the first country in…

Luxembourg to become first country in Europe to legalize cannabis

Move to permit plant after government defeated in parliamentary vote to decriminalise use of the drug

Luxembourg to become first country in Europe to legalize cannabis

Luxembourg is to become the first country in Europe to legalise cannabis for recreational use after a vote in parliament on Friday, ending a more than 500-year-old prohibition.

A law decriminalising cannabis use and establishing a system for regulation and sale of the plant – following the lead of neighbours Germany and Switzerland – passed by a large majority in a 48-24 vote with one abstention, local television reported.

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Under the new regulations, all cannabis is legal for “medical, therapeutic and experimental” purposes, and only cannabis resin will be available for sale and consumption.

It will be up to the owners of farms, cannabis shops, drug testing labs and products made from cannabis to decide on further production, supply and retailing quotas.

No more than eight shops will be allowed per municipality. The law will not permit smoking cannabis outdoors and pipes, or any public displays of cannabis use, the report said.

“We can no longer rely on prohibition,” said Michael Scheinegger, Luxembourg’s minister for public order and security. “The prohibitionist approach is no longer acceptable to society.”

Officials said public consumption of cannabis – a drug traditionally enjoyed at home in company with special lighting – will be banned from cafes and other drinking places and will be subject to fines.

A new local authority, with powers to set driving bans, would also be formed to regulate the cultivation and sale of cannabis and marijuana products. It will likely start operations after a one-year transition period ending in 2025.

Luxembourg is renowned as a financial centre and was established as a republic in 1658.

The city of Luxembourg (pictured) is home to most of the global financial firms based in the Grand Duchy. Photograph: PA

Luxembourg was the first to legalise cannabis use in the world, in 1565, but in its short history it never embraced its legal status with the wider society it serves as a base for some internationals financial services firms.

The strict drug policy took a hit in 2008 when the global financial crisis hit the country, but most residents still consider marijuana use to be a harmless hobby.

The country of 600,000 is the last in the rest of Europe where cannabis is still prohibited and is at the forefront of a major fight to end a US-led global war on drugs, which has failed to curb addiction.

“Luxembourg is leading the pack in Europe as we are the first country to end this by-gone era and to realise that prohibition simply does not work,” Scheinegger said.

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“The existing European legal system is seriously flawed. We are simply not doing enough to combat the illegal drug trade,” he added.

The government decided last year to allow patients to possess an ounce of cannabis for medicinal use, citing decades of research showing that the plant can relieve nausea from chemotherapy and nausea and vomiting from HIV and AIDS, and have painkilling properties.

But the administration of Europe’s richest economy resisted calls to legalise cannabis for recreational use in favour of tighter controls on the sale of the drug.

Earlier this year an official draft law for the legalisation of cannabis was leaked by European legislators. The bill was seen as one of the most progressive measures to end prohibition.

In 2016, the constitutional court voided bans on cannabis growing and smoking in public places, and allowed users of the drug to possess up to an ounce of its active ingredient.

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