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Moving toward a new (European) cannabis policy (?)

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Introductory remarks

On July 15, 2022, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands met to discuss a new cannabis policy. The conversation took place at the initiative of Luxembourg, who has been taking steps to make cannabis legalization happen since 2001. The country hopes that by arranging a meeting with countries that are (or will be) adopting similar policies, it will send a signal to countries and states opposed to legalization.

The meeting resulted in a joint statement signed by Germany, Luxembourg and Malta. This blog discusses the contents of the joint statement and its possible consequences.

The joint statement

The joint statement first sets forth the purpose underlying the existing drug legislation: the protection of human health and welfare. To ensure optimal protection, legislation must be up-to-date. Legislation should take into account (technological) developments in the field of drugs. The assembled countries conclude in the joint statement that this is not currently the case.

The problem is particularly apparent with regard to the regulation of cannabis, a drug consumed by an increasing number of people. The products ingested often contain a high concentration of THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis. Moreover, the quality of the products on the illegal market is not guaranteed, which may cause serious problems.

Regulation of cannabis is therefore of great importance. Note that regulation of (the trade in) cannabis does not equal banning (the trade in) cannabis. The assembled countries do not envision a ban on (the trade in) cannabis. This follows from the proposal at the bottom of the joint statement "to find new approaches beyond prohibition-based drug policies."

What these "new approaches" specifically entail is (unfortunately) not made clear. This, according to the joint statement, will require regular consultations on the wide range of cannabis-related issues. The meeting on July 15, 2022, signifies the start of these regular consultations.

What now?

The meeting on July 15, 2022, marks the beginning of a series of multilateral discussions on the current laws and regulations governing cannabis. Discussions that will, hopefully, result in a less strict regime.

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