Prescriptions for medical marijuana have jumped significantly with nearly 290kg of the drug imported last year. Photo: Shutterstock

Prescriptions for medical marijuana have jumped significantly with nearly 290kg of the drug imported last year. Photo: Shutterstock

Subscriptions for medical marijuana issued to patients in Luxembourg more than doubled between 2021 and 2022, the health ministry said as plans to legalise recreational cannabis remain in their infancy.

Medical marijuana has been legal in the grand duchy since 2018 and its use has been growing steadily since then. Already between 2019 and 2021, there was a 360% increase in prescriptions and this number has increased again.

While in 2021, doctors issued 2,378 prescriptions for medical marijuana, this number rose to 4,881 last year, health minister  (LSAP) said in answer to a parliamentary question on 16 May.

The amount of cannabis imported rose from 157kg in 2021 to 283kg in 2022.

Luxembourg in 2021 faced a of medical marijuana and as a new supplier following a public call for tender.

Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, undergoing chemotherapy or otherwise suffering from severe chronic illness are eligible to receive a medical marijuana prescription from a specially licenced doctor. The drug can only be issued in hospital pharmacies.

There are no plans to make medical cannabis available at regular pharmacies, Lenert said.

Increasingly, patients are using cannabis oil, which can be smoked, vaped or eaten. While in 2021 only buds were prescribed, the share of oil has risen to 7.82% among the 1,751 prescriptions issued between January and 21 April this year, data supplied by the minister showed.

Plans to legalise recreational pot however won’t be put into action before the upcoming elections in October.

Concept adopted in April

The DP-LSAP-déi Gréng coalition in 2018 had pledged to legalise recreational cannabis but the plan ran into numerous hurdles. Not only did the pandemic slow down legislation, but Luxembourg has signed three UN treaties which say cannabis may only be used for medical or research purposes and together form a global drug control framework.

Under a , the government plans to issue two production licences to legally grow the drug. These will supply 14 dispensaries in the country, where consumers over the age of 18 can purchase a maximum of 30g per month for personal use.

The plan is for the government to manage the entire supply chain, from seed to baggie.

Smoking pot in public will remain illegal and the drug won’t be available for sale at coffee shops or so-called social clubs, as is the case in other countries, such as the Netherlands.

The concept adopted in April is a preparatory step on the way to a draft law, with the government now seeking input from the EU and other countries implementing pilot projects on the sale of recreational cannabis.

Homegrown weed

Within reach before parliament breaks for summer, however, is a vote to allow people to grow their own cannabis plants at home.

Luxembourg’s state council had submitted a series of formal oppositions to the draft law submitted to lawmakers. The council’s role is to review all bills and assess whether they are legally sound and in compliance with the constitution and other laws and treaties.

A second draft is now pending the council’s opinion before it can proceed to a vote. Once in force, the law will allow people over the age of 18 to grow up to four cannabis plants per household from seeds, which can be purchased online, for example. Smoking, however, remains banned in public.

The law would also reduce fines for carrying less than 3g of cannabis for personal use, from €251 to €2,500 currently to €25 to €500. A fine with no criminal record of €145 is also possible.