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2023 Legalization of marijuana in Europe

Legalization of marijuana in Europe 2023

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Liberalization of cannabis laws is a trend that, following the example of the situation in the United States and Canada, is progressing in Europe. Legislation on the use of medical marijuana is now regulated in most European Union countries, but there is still a lot of work to be done for recreational use. Compared to most US states, the vast majority of European countries do not allow their citizens to possess, use or even cultivate cannabis. Is this expected to change in the near future? Later in this article, we present some European countries’ plans to fully legalize cannabis.

The governments of Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands met last July to discuss plans and challenges for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The meeting comes in response to the need for European countries to develop common practices for implementing legislative laws. A growing number of countries in Europe are introducing new cannabis laws, with a large number planning to introduce full legalization, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The meeting was the first in a planned series of meetings for top officials from European countries. The forum of regional neighbors could prove crucial, both as a space to consult on future cannabis laws and to respond to any resistance from the United Nations (UN), which currently prohibits member states from legalizing marijuana.

Where in Europe is marijuana legal?

Despite the declarations of many countries, the only country that has fully legalized medical and recreational consumption of cannabis at this point is Malta (See: Malta legalizes marijuana) . Currently, it is legal to possess 7 grams of dried cannabis and grow up to 4 plants for personal use on its territory. The law has been in effect since December 2021 and applies to adult citizens of the country. Other countries are still lagging behind on this issue. The authorities in Luxembourg, despite ambitious plans to introduce full legalization of marijuana in 2022, as reported in local media in late 2021, have further failed to do so. After a wave of media announcements saying that Luxembourg would be the first European country to fully legalize cannabis for recreational purposes, it appears that the chances of legalization are diminishing. The main reason for the problems with allowing the hemp bill to be voted on in parliament are complaints raised by Luxembourg’s attorney general. Meanwhile, Malta has surpassed them – legalizing cannabis in 2021, while other European countries are treading on their toes. Certainly, countries that legalize marijuana first will reap greater profits from hemp tourism or hemp production for export.

In which countries is legalization of marijuana planned and when?

Europe has a rather conservative approach to the full legalization of cannabis – which has its roots in Latin culture, based on the doctrines of the Catholic Church. The Church officially condemns the use of the hemp plant for recreational purposes, but condones its use for medical purposes. The breakthrough was Malta’s introduction of full legalization of marijuana in 2021, which will certainly not be the last complete legalization in Europe. Many European countries such as the Netherlands, Austria, Germany (partially) and Portugal have decriminalized possession of cannabis, which has already largely alleviated negative sentiment toward the plant in Europe. The Dutch model-which until recently was regarded as the most liberal-was actually based on the city of Amsterdam’s tacit acquiescence to the widespread consumption of cannabis by residents and tourists and its sale in local coffee shops. This despite the fact that cannabis cultivation is still illegal in the country. Switzerland has gone one step further, introducing a pilot program last year to legalize marijuana for selected cities. It allows a specific group of volunteers who submit to testing to purchase legal marijuana. Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, on the other hand, plan to go a step further. They are currently working on laws to fully legalize marijuana. What remains to be seen is the subordination of national laws to those imposed by the European Union.

Germany’s ruling parties presented their cannabis legalization bill in October 2022 in Berlin. The new law calls for legal access to cannabis for German consumers. Under the plan, adults will be able to buy up to 30 grams of cannabis for private use, and stocks of dried and other raw materials from the plant will be distributed to controlled dispensaries. In addition, German residents will be allowed to grow up to three plants per person for personal use. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, recently confirmed that the law is scheduled to be introduced in 2024. German legalization plans seem increasingly unlikely, the draft has still not been submitted to the European Commission. Another country that is currently working intensively on a legalization law is the Czech Republic. At the end of September 2022, the government in Prague commissioned Voboril to draft a bill fully legalizing marijuana. The drug commissioner is expected to present the first draft of the law in March 2023. This is only the beginning of the legislative journey, although in the case of the Czech Republic – a country that has been famous for its rather liberal approach to the subject of cannabis for years – entry into force could be much faster than in the case of Germany.

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