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How Does Luxembourg’s Cannabis Law Compare To Germany’s Proposal?

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Last week, Luxembourg’s Parliament approved a measure that legalizes cannabis possession and cultivation for adults. Unlike previous countries that have passed legalization measures (Uruguay, Canada, and Malta), Luxembourg’s legalization model does not include a commercial component, at least not initially.

Instead, what lawmakers passed by a 38-22 vote a handful of days ago removed criminal penalties for adults (18 and over) for the possession of up to 3 grams of cannabis and the cultivation of up to 4 plants in a private residence.

By global legalization standards, Luxembourg’s legalization model is clearly limited. Probably the best comparator out there is when the State of Vermont passed a legalization measure in the United States back in 2018.

Vermont, which was the first U.S. state to legalize cannabis via legislative action versus citizen initiative, initially only legalized the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and the cultivation of up to two plants back in 2018. Commercial sales were still prohibited, although the law would eventually change to permit adult-use sales.

Compared to Uruguay and Canada, which both permit national adult-use sales and considerably greater possession limits, Luxembourg’s new law seems tame. The same is true when comparing Luxembourg’s model to Malta’s model. Malta previously held the time of the most-limited national legalization model with a possession limit of 7 grams and four plants, although Malta’s model at least provides for non-commercial cannabis clubs.

The big metaphorical elephant in the European continent cannabis policy room is, of course, Germany, where a legalization measure has worked its way through the process over the course of the last two years. A measure is expected to officially be submitted to the cabinet for consideration by mid-August.

Compared to what Luxembourg just passed, Germany’s legalization model as currently proposed would be considerably more robust being that it permits cannabis clubs. Below are some of the provisions being considered in Germany pertaining to cannabis clubs:

  • All club properties where cannabis is cultivated and/or stored have to be tightly secured
  • Every club has to have a ‘trained addiction and prevention officer’
  • Must comply with residue limits for pesticides and fertilizers
  • Must track cannabis from seed
  • Annual reporting of crop amounts, including cannabinoid percentage (THC and CBD)
  • Club members only
  • 50 grams per month limit for over 21 years old
  • 30 grams per month limit for 18-20 years old
  • THC percentage cap for 18-20 years old (ten percent THC)
  • Neutral packaging
  • Labeled with specific harvest information

Those provisions are in addition to personal possession (25 grams) and cultivation limits (3 plants), as well as the eventual launch of regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs.

Luxembourg’s new law is definitely better for personal consumers compared to outright prohibition but with such a low possession limit and no legal way to obtain cannabis beyond gifting or personal cultivation, problems are all but guaranteed to arise.

Under the new law, buying and possessing more than three grams of cannabis in Luxembourg is punishable by a prison sentence of up to six months. Even a novice cannabis cultivator can yield harvests that are far more than 3 grams per plant. At a four-plant cultivation limit, a 3-gram possession limit seems completely illogical.

Hopefully, now that some of the stigma has subsided, Luxembourg will work to improve its law, especially considering that legalization is looming large across the border with Germany. Luxembourg needs to do much better than the current law, otherwise, the nation will see just how large of an economic opportunity cost there really is once Germany legalizes and at the possible expense of some of its own citizens’ freedom.

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