Europe moves towards recreational cannabis use

Officials from Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Malta have met to discuss plans associated with recreational marijuana legalisation.

The meeting this month is the first in what is expected to be a series of multilateral discussions, which may well be expanded out to include other countries in the European Union and elsewhere.

Advocates say the meeting of the regional neighbours could prove critical, both as a means of coordinating future cannabis regulations and addressing any resistance from the United Nations (UN), which currently bars member states from legalising marijuana for recreational use.

No decisions were made at the initial summit, but the officials from Germany, Luxembourg and Malta released a joint statement afterwards outlining mutual areas of interest and asserting that they have a “common understanding” that “the status quo is not a tenable option,” which means countries must review the data and consider paths forward for cannabis regulation.

“A structured multilateral exchange on the vast spectrum of cannabis related issues contributes to sharing knowledge, best practices and experiences and foster finding solutions,” the statement said.

“This first structured multilateral exchange is meant to facilitate further consultations regarding regulations of cannabis for non-medical and non-scientific uses.”
The regional discussions are necessary for a number of reasons, the countries said, including the ongoing public health risks posed by the illicit market and law enforcement challenges in distinguishing between different forms of cannabis.

“There is a need to re-assess our policies on cannabis and to take into account recent developments in this area, to further strengthen and develop health and social responses, such as prevention programs, treatment and harm reduction interventions and to find new approaches beyond prohibition based drug policies,” the statement added.

In a separate statement, Luxembourg Minister of Justice Sam Tanson said that “almost half a century after the entry into force of our law establishing the criminalization of drug-related behaviour…Luxembourg still pursues a drug policy focused primarily on repression.”

“However, as our statistics show, the failure of this approach cannot be denied, and the time has come to develop a new approach, based on dialogue with the States which have made the same observation and the European and international institutions,” she said.
Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Paulette Lenert also commented on the meeting, stating that she is “convinced that a paradigm shift is needed in cannabis policy, which must be based on the primary responsibility of adopting a coherent, balanced and evidence, aimed at achieving the most beneficial outcome for society.”

“The adoption of these new public policies, emphasising the prevention and reduction of risks and harms through regulation rather than repression and measures coercive, poses new challenges for us at international and European level, which we have addressed constructively during our consultation,” she said.