Last week, Luxembourg confirmed that it will legalize commercial cannabis production and consumption by adults.
The tiny country could be the pebble that unleashes a recreational cannabis avalanche in Europe, just as Colorado did for the United States in 2012.
The Health Minister of Luxembourg also encouraged other European countries to follow suit.
With many countries now allowing cannabis for medical purposes, and a few decriminalizing possession of the product, the cultural barriers against cannabis are breaking down, just as they have in the United States and Canada.
The most cannabis resistant countries in Europe are still deeply concerned about recreational use, but the tide is starting to turn…
Cannabis Legalization Spreads in Europe
Some countries have put up a fight when it comes to legalization, but the fight can’t last forever.
When France introduced a limited medical program earlier this year, it made sure to emphasize that the program was not intended to lead to full legalization.
But that’s what Illinois said when it introduced its own medical cannabis plan.
Usage in Illinois was strictly controlled, and medical-use permits were available only for the most severe conditions. That was in 2013.
I don’t expect Europe to be any different.
Places like Germany, which has a relatively liberal medical-use program, will look to the west and see a country with a successful adult-use program generating taxes, decreasing use among children, and creating jobs. Government officials will start to wonder what the big deal has been all this time.
It’s too early to adjust any estimates of the global cannabis market size if countries in Europe were to start legalizing recreational marijuana.
Overall, the illicit use of cannabis is lower in Europe than it is in the U.S. and Canada because the market is less developed.
But if a third of Europe were to legalize adult use, we can expect that, over time, the size of the industry there could rival the size of the U.S. industry.
That could eventually increase the worldwide market by $30 billion or more.