Although it’s a tiny country with a population of just 600,000 people, Luxembourg is now leading the cannabis conversation in Europe around how fully integrated cannabis policies should be put in place.
Despite its medical cannabis programme only commencing two years ago, following the country’s legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018, Luxembourg’s cannabis programme seems to be showing a smooth progression as time goes on. With the country treating over 270 patients (as of August 2019) for conditions including chronic pain, chemotherapy-related nausea and muscle spasms from MS, Luxembourg has already exceeded their Ministry of Health’s expectations of 200 patients being treated across the country in this time period.
Steps to make access to the drug easier in the country are also promising – as although following the law change in 2018 only specialists could prescribe, a later ruling by the Council of State means that now any general practitioner can prescribe after completing a one day training course.
Additionally, medical cannabis was originally only available in Luxembourg through a prescription from a hospital pharmacy, but, as there were only four of these pharmacies in the country, this made accessing the medicines hard for citizens living in rural areas. So, as part of the development of the pilot scheme, medical cannabis has now been made available from more pharmacies in the country.
Back in 2002, the possession of small amounts of cannabis was decriminalised following the reclassification of cannabis as a category B controlled substance. This means that only fines are given for a first offence.
After a public petition was presented to the government in 2018 after getting the necessary amount of signatures, the country began looking into the issue of cannabis legalisation more seriously.
In their most recent European Cannabis Report, Prohibition Partners have reported that ministers in the country are supposedly looking to present a preliminary concept bill for the legalisation of cannabis by next Autumn, although it’s currently unknown when this bill is intended to be introduced to parliament.
As the current government is still aiming to implement legalisation legislation during this term (which ends in 2023), it looks likely that if no other European state makes sudden moves towards legalisation, Luxembourg will become the first country in Europe to legalise cannabis.
The tax revenue garnered from this legalisation will reportedly be reinvested in addiction treatment and drug education programmes.
Promise for the future
In November 2019, the country’s Department of Health announced that they’ll be increasing the budget for medical cannabis purchases and doctor training from €350,000 to €1.37 million this year.
Along with all of the other recent and promising changes discussed in this article, this budget increase is another factor that points towards Luxembourg’s emergence as a leader in the cannabis charge in Europe. In the next year, if the proposed developments are implemented, then perhaps we will have a new model for what a successful cannabis scheme in Europe should look like.
For in depth information on medical cannabis and the conditions medical cannabis can treat, we recommend accessing our in depth modules available on https://learn.taomc.org/. Here, you can find up to date information on cannabis based medicinal products and how they may be prescribed. You can also explore our news section and evidence base for the latest information on this ever-changing area of research.
We urge anyone considering the use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use.