from the do-what-thou-wilt dept.
Luxembourg has called on its EU neighbours to relax their drug laws as its health minister confirmed plans to become the first European country to legalise cannabis production and consumption.
“This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work,” Etienne Schneider told Politico. “Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people … I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”
Residents over the age of 18 are expected to be able to buy the drug for recreational use legally within two years. The state will regulate production and distribution through a cannabis agency.
Draft legislation is expected to be unveiled later this year providing further detail on the types of cannabis that will be on sale and the level of tax that will be imposed.
Schneider said the legislation was likely to include a ban on non-residents buying cannabis in order to dissuade drug-tourism. Home-growing is also likely to be prohibited.
[...] In the Netherlands, possibly the European country most associated with a relaxed attitude toward the use of cannabis, its recreational use, possession and trade is technically illegal. It has a ‘tolerance policy’, or gedoogbeleid, under which recreational use is largely accepted within bounds.
Cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute, sell or grow in the UK. Those caught with the drug face a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Several police forces have said they will no longer target recreational users and those with less than an ounce (28 grams) can be given a warning or on-the-spot fine.
Under the Netherlands’ gedoogbeleid, prosecutors turn a blind eye to the breaking of certain laws. Technically the possession, use and trade of the drug is illegal, but the authorities allow licensed coffee shops to sell cannabis from their premises, and to keep 500g on site at any time. The police turn a blind eye to those in possession of 5g or less. Because production remains illegal, however, cafes are often forced to do business with criminal gangs to source the drug.
The UK outlawed cannabis in 1928. Possession comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Those who are successfully prosecuted for producing and supplying the class-B drug face up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Police can issue an on-the-spot fine or a warning for those caught with less than an ounce if it is deemed for personal use, but several forces have said they will not target recreational users.
Étienne Schneider, deputy prime minister of Luxembourg, frequently tells the story of how he got interested in building a space resources industry in the country. His efforts to diversify the country's economy several years ago led to a meeting with Pete Worden, at the time the director of NASA's Ames Research Center and a proponent of many far-reaching space concepts. During an Oct. 22 panel discussion at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington, he recalled Worden advocating for commercial space: "Why shouldn't you go for space mining activities?"
"When he explained all this to me, I thought two things," Schneider said. "First of all, what did the guy smoke before coming into the office? And second, how do I get him out of here?"
He eventually bought into Worden's vision, starting a space resources initiative that attracted companies to the country while enacting a space resources law like that in the United States. By the beginning of 2019, though, it looked like it might all be a bad trip. The two major startups in that industry, Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, had been acquired by other companies with no interest in space resources. Worse, the Planetary Resources deal wiped out an investment of 12 million euros Luxembourg made in the startup.
Schneider is undaunted by those setbacks as he continues work to make Luxembourg a hotbed of entrepreneurial space, a scope that has expanded beyond, but has not abandoned, space resources. During the IAC, the country's year-old space agency signed an agreement with NASA to explore potential cooperation, building on an agreement Luxembourg signed with the U.S. Commerce Department in May. Just before the conference, Luxembourg announced it would partner with the European Space Agency on a space resources center in the country.
The article includes an interview with Schneider.
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