Developments for cannabis in Europe appear to be about five to 10 years behind those in North America. It’s slow going, and while some European countries have legalized the use of cannabis, others are still not quite there.
This creates an interesting dynamic where countries that aren’t yet on board with cannabis legalization may have difficulty policing the transport of cannabis over the border from those that have legalized it.
Read on to learn more about new developments for cannabis in Europe.
What’s New for Cannabis in Europe
Legislation for cannabis in Europe may be comparatively slow to develop, but we have seen some movement that indicates continued growth in the near future. Here are seven countries making headway in cannabis legalization.
Having pledged in 2018 to create an adult-use program by 2023, Luxembourg has recently proposed legislation that would allow adults to keep up to four cannabis plants in their homes or gardens.
Although the country was not the first European nation to legalize cannabis as initially anticipated, they’re still among the first to set this kind of legislation in motion.
Germany has also recently announced plans to legalize cannabis for adult use, though details about specific regulations are still in flux.
Since there is also talk of Germany becoming the first European nation to legalize the sale of adult-use cannabis, the country has potential to become one of the bigger importers and distributors of cannabis in Europe.
The tiny island country of Malta was actually the first in the EU to legalize adult-use cannabis, which it did on December 14, 2021.
The legalization allows for home grows of up to four plants, but does not permit public consumption or carrying more than seven grams of cannabis. Still, it’s a historic move that may influence progress in other European countries.
While cannabis is largely illegal in Spain, cannabis clubs have been generally tolerated, and the country is one of the largest producers of cannabis in Europe.
Recently, however, legislation has been proposed for the legalization of medical marijuana in Spain. Whether the proposal will succeed remains to be seen.
In March of this year, France legalized medical cannabis and has been in the midst of medical trials since 2021.
Any progress on the adult-use front is still very slow moving.
Neither medical nor adult-use cannabis is legal in the U.K. at this time.
Although the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, recently set up a drug commission to discuss legalization, there’s not a lot of movement just yet.
Portugal was among the first EU nations to legalize medical cannabis in 2018, and now, it looks like the country is on its way to legalizing adult-use, as well.
That said, exact legislation and regulations have yet to be defined.
In some ways, the approach to cannabis in Europe is similar to that in the U.S., with some countries legalizing cannabis and others not yet, just as some states have legalized it and others have not.
To better control black market operations, the EU will likely need to step in and set preliminary regulations around international trade and transport. Setting high standards of regulation would help cut down on black market growth and establish more sustainable programs for cannabis in Europe.
Additionally, similar to Canada, more progressive attitudes toward health care could help medical cannabis act as a stepping stone to full legalization.
Slow but Steady
While cannabis in Europe may be moving slower than in North America, that position also gives European programs the ability to learn from U.S. and Canadian developments and start their cannabis economies off strong. We anticipate a fairly smooth transition into legalization from here.
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