The decision taken on August 7th by Luxembourg to legalise cannabis is symptomatic of feelings throughout the European Union on the recreational use of cannabis. More and more, politicians are realising the hypocrisy that has surrounded the use of marijuana for half a century or more. Medical use of Cannabis was already legal in Luxembourg and possession of small quantities decriminalised. It was the production and sale of the drug that was still outlawed. It is surprising that the Netherlands, a country with a well-known acceptance and tolerance of drugs, still makes drug use a crime. Though a very tolerant attitude is maintained by the authorities, when it comes to prosecution.
The First Country in the EU to Legalise Cannabis
The ruling has not yet passed into law, but the government has announced a firm commitment to become the first European country to legalise cannabis. Portugal decriminalised all drugs in 2001 and made the medical use of cannabis legal, last year. The legal draft is expected later this year and should provide details as to the types of cannabis that will be included, and the likely taxation levels. Hopefully when other governments see their revenue returns, this forward thinking approach will permeate throughout the European Union.
In a move to dissuade drug-tourism. Etienne Schneider a politician and economist member of the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party, explained that the law to legalise cannabis would likely include banning non-residents the right to purchase cannabis. It is likely that the growing of the drug at home will still be outlawed. Schneider went on to say, This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work, forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people … I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”
In a move likely to cause some controversy, young people between the ages of 12 and 17 will not be criminalised for possession of five grams or less of the drug. However harsh penalties will be incurred by those breaking this law.
The Start of a World Movement
Luxembourg follows Canada and Uruguay as world leaders when it comes to those that have made the decision to legalise cannabis. 11 States in the USA have also done so. This is in direct contradiction of a UN convention which aims to control all narcotic drugs “exclusively for medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import distribution, trade, employment and possession of drugs”.
Hopefully as the world moves slowly towards this sensible approach, freedom of choice for more and more people will become the norm. Politicians should surely now realise that in a world that fully accepts alcohol and tobacco use, to legalise cannabis is the only sensible approach.