Government scales back legal cannabis plans in policy revamp
Luxembourg's governing coalition continues to drag its feet on fulfilling its election promise to legalise the production and sale of cannabis, but could allow plants to be raised at home, officials said on Friday.
Adult residents would be allowed to grow four cannabis plants per household if proposals announced by government ministers at a press conference are adopted into law. The moves to decriminalise the mind-altering drug also would sharply lower fines punishing people who carry three grams or less from the current €250 to €2,500 to between €25 and €500.
But consuming cannabis in public would remain illegal.
Luxembourg's government is still working to legalise cannabis production and sale but is facing "international constraints" delaying its 2018 election promise, Justice Minister Sam Tanson said.
The Grand Duchy would be the first in the EU to legalise cannabis for recreational use, joining a handful of other countries including Uruguay and Canada. The Netherlands and Portugal have decriminalised but not legalised cannabis.
Luxembourg's plans have faced headwind as neighbouring countries expressed discontent about the plan, fearing the easier rules could bring trouble in border regions.
The government's tentative step to legalise cannabis came as ministers also announced plans to fight drug-related crime by improving security around Luxembourg City's Gare area and deporting drug dealers who are in the country illegally.
With parliament's approval, the police would be given the power to evict squatters from building entrances - a long-held grievance of city dwellers - and be equipped with bodycams recording interactions with the public, Internal Security Minister Henri Kox said.
Residents of the Gare district - an area notorious for drug crime, prostitution and squatters - have long complained about government inactivity. This prompted Mayor Lydie Polfer to hire a private security firm to patrol the streets in a snub to Kox, whose ministry oversees the police. He responded by announcing plans to hire an additional 1,000 police officers by 2026.
The government also aims to deport drug dealers who are in Luxembourg illegally by overhauling the law and increasing capacity in detention centres, Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said at the press conference.
Not all foreign drug dealers are in Luxembourg illegally and therefore cannot be expelled, he added. Home countries also often refuse to take their nationals, which makes deporting them difficult, Asselborn said.