Luxembourg running out of medical cannabis
Luxembourg is running low on medical cannabis as the country's sole supplier is struggling to meet demand, Health Minister Paulette Lenert has said, posing a risk for patients such as those suffering from cancer or multiple sclerosis.
Doctors prescribed 140kg of cannabis for medicinal use in 2020 – almost three times more than in 2019, the health ministry said in June, after it was made legal in 2018. Earlier this year, Luxembourg was also facing a shortage of medical cannabis and authorities had to find new suppliers.
On 28 October, authorities had received 13.5 kilogram of cannabis from their supplier Tilray but stocks of the mind-altering drug were already running low three weeks later, with just a third left, Lenert said in response to a parliamentary reply on Monday.
The current stock contains a 9% level of the psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). No cannabis with a THC level of 18% - the other quality that Luxembourg also normally orders - is in stock at the moment, Lenert said, citing quality and production issues at the supplier's end.
The country expects a next delivery in December, Lenert said.
The news came as Luxembourg had to scale back plans to fully legalise the production and sale of cannabis for recreational purposes, something Prime Minister Xavier Bettel had promised when he was re-electd to power in 2018.
The government is still working on the plans but is facing "international constraints," Justice Minister Sam Tanson has said. Neighbouring countries have expressed discontent about Luxembourg's plan, fearing the easier rules could bring trouble in border regions.
Under the revised plans, residents would be allowed to grow four cannabis plants per household if proposals are adopted into law. Carrying the drug would still be subject to fines, but they will be much lower than they are currently.
The Grand Duchy would be the first in the EU to partially legalise cannabis for recreational use, joining other countries including Uruguay and Canada. The Netherlands and Portugal have decriminalised but not legalised cannabis.