An evolving legal framework regarding the use of cannabis in Luxembourg : towards a possible legalisation of recreational cannabis to the same extent as therapeutic cannabis ?
REAL, Avocats à la Cour
Luxembourg is one of the first countries in Europe to have recently adopted a law aiming to authorize the use of cannabis for medical purposes, with the aim to reduce the pain and suffering from certain patients.
The law of July 20th 2018 modifying the law of February 19th 1973 on the sale of medical substances and the fight against substance abuse decriminalized the use of hemp (cannabis) or any products derived from the same plant if such use was prescribed and obtained for medical purposes.
The new article 30-2 of the aforementioned law foresees that « every doctor authorized to exercise his or her profession in Luxembourg is authorized to prescribe medicinal cannabis to a patient if the following conditions are fulfilled :
- The patient must suffer from a severe illness in an advanced or terminal face, or from an illness whose symptoms have a prolonged negative impact on his or her quality of life if those symptoms can be minimized through the administration of medicinal cannabis,
- The doctor must have previously undergone special training on cannabis pharmacology, its various forms, therapeutic indications and side effects, as well as on the modalities and scientific aspects of its prescription ».
Three months after the introduction of medical cannabis, Luxembourg’s Health Minister Etienne Schneider outlined that over 120 patients had been treated through the use and prescription of this substance.
Furthermore, the Luxembourgish Government announced in its coalition agreement of December 2018 that a wider legislation on the use of cannabis for recreational purposes could be adopted.
Concerning this matter, a petition on the recreational use of cannabis demanded, in addition to the law allowing such use, that coffee shops be opened where customers would be free to legally consume cannabis as it is currently practiced in the Netherlands.
If such a legislation were to be passed, Luxembourg would be the first country in Europe to legalize this substance in its entirety through a legally coherent framework.
The principal objectives of the coalition agreement are to decriminalize, or even to legalize under conditions that remain yet to be determined, the production, the sale, the possession and the recreational use of cannabis on national territory for adult residents. It equally aims to reduce the market pertaining to illicit trade and the psychological and physical dangers linked to such trade. The fight against crime related to the illegal supplying of cannabis is amongst the highest priorities of the Government.
The Government announced its intention to introduce a « residential clause » in the new law, exclusively allowing the selling of cannabis to residents and thereby suggesting that the use of recreational cannabis would be reserved to residents too.
As the law on legalizing the use of cannabis is currently being drafted, only the future will tell if Luxembourg is to follow the example set by Canada, who legalized the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis in October 2018.