Malta Becomes First European Country to Legalize Cannabis

Malta’s parliament on Dec. 14 voted 36-to-27 to approve a measure legalizing possession, cultivation and regulated sale of cannabis. Malta has been a European Union in 2004, which puts this deeply conservative archipelago ahead of continental leaders like the Netherlands as the first in the EU to legalize. 

The law allows people to hold up to seven grams on their person, and to grow up to four plants and keep up to 50 grams of dried cannabis at home. It also establishes a framework for regulated sales, and for expungement of past convictions.

“It’s groundbreaking,” Equality Minister Owen Bonnici, who introduced the bill, told the New York Times. “Malta can be a model for harm reduction.” 

Conservative Opposition Outmaneuvered

This is indeed a counterintuitive development. The overwhelmingly Catholic archipelago had notoriously been under the rule of a Crusader military order, the Knights of Malta, for more than two-and-a-half centuries starting in the late Middle Ages, and this cultural stamp is still very much in evidence. Divorce was only legalized in Malta in 2011.

The cannabis legalization bill was carefully crafted to reassure the conservative opposition, and portrayed as strategy to undercut criminal networks. “We are going to curb drug trafficking by making sure that people who make use of cannabis now have a safe and regularized way from where they can obtain cannabis,” Bonnici told Reuters

Retail outlets will be confined to nonprofit associations, to be registered with an Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis. These association will be able to sell no more than seven grams a day to their members, for a maximum of 50 grams a month. Public smoking will remain illegal, and fines of up to €500 are imposed for smoking in the presence of a minor. Those found to be holding in excess of the modest seven grams but still below 28 grams (about an ounce) are slapped with a fine of €100. Above 28 grams, the criminal penalties remain intact.

But Malta’s conservative bloc was not appeased. The bill was the work of the leftist Labor Party, which has ruled since 2013.  And the vote was on party lines, with the opposition Nationalist Party voting against. Nationalist leader Bernard Grech charged that the bill would “only lead to the strengthening of the illegal market, with organized crime taking advantage,” BBC News notes.

President George Vella signed the bill into law on Dec. 18, which was a mere formality—under the Maltese system, the presidency is a largely ceremonial post. Real power lies with parliament and the prime minister. Nonetheless, Vella had to resist demands from the opposition that he not sign the bill, Malta Today reports. He forthrightly refused this demand, saying he had no power to withhold his signature from legislation passed by parliament. He even went on TV to scold the opposition: “The head of state cannot capriciously create a constitutional crisis.”

As the law took effect, the Nationalist Party issued a statement pledging to “take the necessary measures in the parliament to repeal it,” and accusing Prime Minister Robert Abela of “normalizing drug use.” However, as Malta Today notes, if they didn’t have enough votes to block the legislation, they probably don’t have enough to repeal it.

A Changing Malta

Malta has been opening up considerably over the past years of Labor Party rule. In March 2018, the government legalized medical marijuana, allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis for chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and side effects of chemotherapy. This replaced an earlier law that only recognized prescriptions from medical specialists, and was so restrictive that not a single Maltese had yet been treated legally with any cannabis-based product. 

Today there are 40,000 enrolled members in the medical marijuana program, and the list of qualifying ailments has greatly increased. However, with domestic cultivation barred, supply was dependent on imports from companies such as Bedrocan of the Netherlands. Given the global supply-chain crisis, this has led to severe shortages in the archipelago, as LovinMalta website reported last year.

This is set to change now. And Malta’s loosening up is in part a response to the global crisis. The Ministry for Equality, Research & Innovation, Bonnici’s post, was just created this year to coordinate post-COVID strategy, as the Times of Malta reported in July. 

On the day the legalization measure was passed, Malta Today ran an angry opinion piece by Andrew Bonello, president of the reform lobby Releaf Malta, and Robert Fenech of the progressive youth organization Moviment Graffitt. Noting the continued high level of cannabis arrests on the island, the editorial accused the opposition of “exhibiting arguments borne out of a medieval mindset.” 

Wrote Bonello and Fenech: “Calls for zero-tolerance and witch-hunts…are reflective of a society rooted in vindictive moralistic stances, instead of a society geared towards education and sound scientific and empirical research on social and health issues, such as the widespread consumption of cannabis.”

The First Domino of European Prohibition? 

Malta is on the very fringe of Europe—it is south of Sicily and much closer to Tunisia than to Rome. And it is a relative new-comer to the EU. But while several European countries—most notoriously the Netherlands—have adopted very tolerant cannabis policies, Malta is now the first to actually legalize.  

“Malta has formally legislated what exists in other European countries in a weird gray area,” Steve Rolles of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, an advocacy group in the UK, told the New York Times.

There is a sense that the European tide may finally be turning, however. Continental leader Germany is said to be considering legalization since a new coalition government including the Greens took over this month. A legalization bill introduced in October is currently pending before parliament in Luxembourg—like Malta a mini-state, but in the very heart of Europe. 

Malta may seem a paradoxical vanguard for cannabis reform, but there is a sense that if it can happen there, Europe’s leading powers may be feeling the pressure to catch up.

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Luxembourg Publishes Details on Domestic Recreational Cannabis Plan

There is a very funny thing about the European cannabis discussion right now, particularly as the news of the German decision to proceed with recreational reform has emerged with the formal creation of the next coalition government. Namely that promising reform while entering power is fairly popular, if not an inevitable development at this point, nobody really wants to go first.

That honor, so far, within Europe (beyond Holland) will almost certainly go to the Swiss, who are powering forward with the nitty gritty details required to create a new market as of next year. However, Switzerland is famously not in the European Union. And within such countries, no politician, at least until the German decision to proceed with recreational, has quite known how to frame such forward progress in formal statutes.

That reality has been made even more clear during the last week as Luxembourg’s government, which promised as part of its platform in 2018 that it would legalize recreational use by 2023, has just taken a rather large sidestep. Namely, the country’s first foray into this discussion will be in fact just to allow adults the right to self-cultivate four plants.

For all the hullabaloo, in other words, this is a dramatic twist if not anti-climatic development in a situation now fraught with the inevitability of reform (even if not in Luxembourg first).

Luxembourg: The First Baby Steps

What is so ironic about all of this is the fact that for the past three years, officials in Luxembourg have made it very public that they were “studying” the Canadian model. What has developed is actually far more like the Dutch (at least so far) if not the evolving situation in other European countries (see Malta, which allowed home-grow this year and appears to be actually on the verge of greater reform by the end of the year, not to mention Italy, which appears to be backing into the same thing).

This is what the government is prepared to regulate: the seed market. Plants grown in private homes, away from sight and out of reach of minors, will have to be grown from either seeds purchased domestically (in either brick-and-mortar establishments or online), or even from abroad (see Holland, for starters). 

In the meantime, there will be a plan produced for the national production of seeds for commercial uses. This presumably is the next step the Luxembourgians see the market evolving into as Germany now presumably takes the lead on setting policies that will probably be copied across Europe.

The legislation also proposes decriminalizing the possession of up to three grams of flower if caught in public, with perpetrators punished with a fine that is like those for tobacco transgressions.

Of course, this development is also a bit more than a face-saving move. The country is moving, even if slowly, towards full cannabis reform. In the meantime, Luxembourg will be creating a longer-term infrastructure for a commercial market to begin. Not to mention offsetting the huge outlay of government funds for medical cannabis, which as of this year was going for 100 euros a gram (wholesale).

What Is Likely to Happen

While this is pure conjecture at this point, the interesting thing about the Luxembourgian development is that it may end up being very much like a mix of the Swiss and German markets. The Swiss made the sale of CBD plants legal, which in turn set off a cottage industry post 2017, which in turn has clearly created a basis for the recreational market now set to launch in the first half of 2022. 

The Swiss also appear to be creating, deliberately, a domestic market for the sourcing of all cannabis for this new domestic market. Indeed, all cannabis bound for this national trial must be sourced within Switzerland’s borders.

It is very likely that the market in Luxembourg will eventually be similar. This way, it also keeps the discussion about the cannabis tourist trade in limbo, at least until someone else beyond the Dutch addresses it. Indeed, there is a lingering stigma in Holland about pot tourism that continues to rear its head in Luxembourg too, even as this is also an obvious way to repair COVID-induced damage to this sector of every European economy right now.

No matter what, however, it is clear that no country’s politicians in Europe, particularly if they come to power with a pro-cannabis plank, can entirely duck the conversation. 

Luxembourg, however, is not going to be “first” within the EU, much less Europe. That distinction, as of the recent news revealed, will almost certainly be the Swiss and the Germans.

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Exploring Cannabis Culture in Barcelona, Spain

“Barcelona, archives of courtesy, shelter of the foreigners, hospital of the poor, father-land of the brave, the vengeance of the offended and pleasant correspondence of firm friendship, and in the site, and in beauty, unique.” – Miguel de Cervantes

In the next part of our series on cannabis culture, we’ll be looking at Barcelona. Remember that cannabis culture is the way that cannabis can be perceived and treated within a society, city or country.  This includes the separate regulations regarding individua cannabinoids that we find in the plant like CBD vs THC. In our next stop we look at the capital city of Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain; the home of fantastic football, awesome architecture and a growing weed culture, Barcelona: With the rise of Barcelona Cannabis clubs, what secrets can we find in this jewel of the mediterranean?

Whether you’re talking about the US, Europe, or anywhere else in the world, cannabis culture can vary significantly. To learn about laws across the globe, make sure to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter, your hub for all things cannabis-related.


Barcelona 

Barcelona is found on the northeastern coast of Spain, but it is also the capital city of the autonomous region of Catalonia, a region in a constant battle for independence from the rest of the nation. Because of this Barcelona has quite a unique and different feel to other Spanish cities. It is home to 4.8 million people, making it one of the largest cities in europe. It is also one of the most visited by tourest, being the fifth biggest tourist city in Europe. It is home to a happening hipster scene and has inspired multiple songs and movies and artworks before. Famously, Freddy mercury sang of its beauty in his hit solo song, ‘Barcelona’.   

“Barcelona, Such a beautiful horizon, Barcelona, Like a jewel in the sun! Viva Brcelona!

Here are some of the top places to visit in Barcelona, the beautiful horizon, some famous sites and scenes to see:

Basílica de la Sagrada Família

Located in the northern part of the city this iconic neo-gothic church dominates the skyline, as well as the souvenir stands. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, who started the project in 1883, the huge church was only supposed to take 10-15 years to build, but ended up being a lot longer, still being under construction today. This is a must see for anyone in Barcelona and is guaranteed to take your breath away. 

The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)

Don’t get lost in this medieval maze of ancient streets, one of the oldest parts of Barcelona, the gothic quarter has been a religious centre for hundreds of years. There is evidence of Roman and medieval architecture and in the centre of it all stands the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia, a spectacular cathedral. You can also find the Picasso museum and be serenaded by some classical Spanish guitar whilst you walk. There are also some fantastic bars and pubs down these streets.

Las Ramblas 

The main central street in Barcelona, full of tourists, but still a mainstay for any new visitor. A beautiful high street with old school bars and restaurants to suit everyone, all shaded by the boulevard of beautiful trees.

Cannabis in Barcelona 

So what is the cannabis culture like in Barcelona, what do the people of this beautiful city thing about the plant? Is it an important part of its culture? Well the truth is, it is. Barcelona is rapidly growing into one of the most important cities in Europe when it comes to weed. With over 200 specialised cannabis clubs, it’s clear to see that the city is taking Cannabis culture seriously. These cannabis clubs are an exciting development for European cannabis culture in general as they are bars where you can work, drink, play some pool but also legally smoke cannabis. The technicalities on the law in Barcelona are a little more complex, but we will discuss that below. With so many Cannabis clubs to choose from it is important to understand how they operate and which are often recommended as the best. An important thing to note is that to go to a Cannabis club you must be a member. So, let’s unpick the law in Barcelona around Cannabis.

Is It Legal?

For a simple answer to this question I refer to the Barcelona weed guide: “Smoking and possession of marijuana is completely legal within the confines of your own home or within a cannabis club. As long as you aren’t smoking or in possession of cannabis in a public place, you are not breaking the law. Even as a foreign national you are within the law.” This sounds like great news and a relatively simple rule to follow, however there are some traps that are possible to fall into whilst in the city. For clarity let’s have a look in a little more detail at what counts as illegal weed usage in the city.

Illegal

As stated before, smoking weed at home and in a cannabis club is perfectly legal, but this means smoking it anywhere else is not. If you are caught smoking cannabis on the streets you could be prosecuted and fined at least €600! Also, unlike Amsterdam, where it is also illegal to smoke on the streets, the police are much less forgiving. On top of this, it is also important to remember that you shouldn’t buy cannabis from any street vendors as again, you are not at home or in a Cannabis club, it’s not worth the risk as you can get some by being a member of a club. It’s also important to remember that being in possession of Cannabis whilst not at home is illegal, so even if it’s in your pocket, if you get searched you can be fined. But now we know what’s illegal, what can we do in Barcelona?

Legal 

The Cannabis Club scene is one of the fastest growing weed cultures in Europe and is an interesting experiment that hopefully other cities will begin to follow. The clubs are interesting as they aren’t public like the cafés in Amsterdam. Instead, they are private members only clubs that you need to apply for which means they have a much more private feel. Inside, you can perfectly legally smoke and buy weed. Although, I wouldn’t use the term buying weed as the way the clubs work is a bit more like you own a share of weed when you pay your membership fee and you acquire it when you go to the club. You have to pay a yearly membership fee, but once that’s sorted, you’re all set to go. How do they work legally though? Well, as stated above it isn’t illegal to smoke cannabis on private properties and a Cannabis club counts as a private property, once you’re a member so it all works perfectly!

How to Join a Cannabis Club

The first thing you have to do is find the right club, below we’ve listed some of the most recommended Cannabis Clubs online. It’s important to understand that every club is different, sometimes with a different fee and with a different vibe, so make sure you find one that is right for you. The next step is that you have to request an invitation online. You can ask friends in Barcelona who are already members to get you in, but If you don’t have anyone in the city already you have to find the clubs online, or on instagram and message, requesting an invitation. Again, our friends at Barcelona Weed Guide have some tips for this: “Apply for an invitation from a specific member of staff and when you arrive at the cannabis club you need to ask for this person. They are inviting you to the club and they can get you membership.” Sometimes the club is closed to new members, but if they’re not, the most common reply from them is this: “Please, show this message at the reception desk and bring your ID to identify yourself as a legal adult (age). We can’t answer further questions until we meet face to face at the club.” And that’s exactly what you need to do, don’t forget your ID as this is the key to being accepted!

Recommendations 

Here are some of the top recommendations according to a few sites online: Barcelona Coffee Shop, Dragon Weed Club, Zkittlez Weed Club and G13 Weed Club. There’s a much more extensive list, with links at this site

Are they closing down?

These Cannabis clubs are pioneers and have been shown to be reducing the amount of street selling and criminal convictions for cannabis possession. However, there have been motions towards closing these clubs down. Arguments have been made that the clubs are promoting themselves and aiming themselves at young people and tourists, so the police and government have decided to crack down on these promotional activities and will start inspecting the clubs. This could be bad news, but at the same time the Catalonian government has been to-ing and fro-ing on the topic for a while.

Conclusion

Barcelona is a beautiful, bustling city full of beautiful buildings and some spectacular sights, but it is clearly also one of the pioneering cities of Cannabis culture in Europe. One can only hope that these clubs remain what they are and that the protection of the rights of Barcelona citizens and tourists to smoke cannabis is maintained through these brilliant clubs. If you visit Barcelona and want to join a club, remember you have to apply online first and can’t just turn up at the door.

Thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Remember to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products.

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Report Calls for UK to Embrace Potential of Medical Cannabis Industry

An advocacy organization known as Volteface recently released a report entitled “New Leaf: Beyond Brexit, Countering Covid” explores how the United Kingdom (UK) is missing out by not fully embracing the opportunities of the medical cannabis industry. 

Head of Programming at the Adam Smith Institute, Daniel Pryor, wrote the foreword for the report, stating that the UK is poised to become highly successful if it embraces the plant. 

“The European market for medical cannabis is the fastest growing in the world, and our unique position gives us the prospect of becoming a leading player in medical cannabis and CBD,” said Pryor. 

“This paper provides a fascinating overview of the state of play in these markets, opportunities for growth and the regulatory questions that face the sector. It shows how the UK is in a prime position to become the centre of the European medical cannabis and CBD industry, as well as the significant economic benefits that would result.”

Volteface’s report estimates that the UK medical cannabis market could be worth up to £1.2 billion. With this much potential, it predicts that a full-fledged medical cannabis industry could create up to 41,437 jobs, and 17,000 ancillary jobs.

The report also includes a list of seven recommendations for the UK to embrace, including:

  1. A “cannabis tsar” or governmental agency to help drive the UK toward medical cannabis legalization and regulation.
  2. Clarity from the Food Standards Association in regards to the legal amount of THC allowed in CBD products.
  3. An investment in innovation for growth in the cannabis industry, as well as communication with the National Farmers Union “to represent producer interest.”
  4. Following up with a previous recommendation from Volteface, allowing hemp seeds/plants over 0.2 percent THC and up to one percent, which would “improve the health of the plant and increase the yield of CBD per acre.”
  5. Pursuing legislative changes to speed up the flow of products, which would simplify the process and improve patient access.
  6. Changing legislation that requires medical cannabis prescriptions to be made by doctors via the specialist register.
  7. Conduct a government funded national trial on medical cannabis products to “fully unlock the UK market.”

The entirety of the report is separated into four sections. First, “The Economic Opportunity,” recommending that the UK become an “investment hub” with some of the largest cannabis companies in the world, such as Aphria Inc, Aurora and Canopy Growth. The report identifies the top 20 markets (both European countries and U.S. states). “This UK market estimate demonstrates the immense economic opportunity the cannabis sector holds. 

By developing the UK into a European cannabis industry leader, this will hold a significant amount of capital, in the realms of £1.265 billion,” the report states. As mentioned previously, it also dives into the job-related data of many states in the U.S. and how cannabis contributes to the local economy as well.

Second, “The Innovation Opportunity” opens up the conversation about the potential growth, using case studies conducted on Kanabo, an Israel-based R&D company that created what the report calls “groundbreaking,” and CiiTECH, a CBD company focused on cannabinoid research which seeks to “legitimize CBD as a health product.”

Together, the report hopes that these case studies showcase the benefits of innovation, and argues that only through innovation can the cannabis industry push past decades of prohibition into a new and prosperous era.

Third, “The UK CBD Advantage” addresses a “novel food,” which is a European law that defines a product that does not have history prior to May 1997 as a way to monitor newer developed “foods” for consumer safety. With cannabis in mind, the report addresses the challenges of compliance enforcement.

Finally, “Increasing European Competition” covers the current industries in Denmark and France, ending with a call to action for the UK to remove its barriers to medical cannabis access and begin looking toward the future. 

“The UK industry is taking off with a quickly changing landscape. Though things are looking good, there is more work to be done. If the UK wants to continue developing into a key industry leader, it must look into a controlled framework for medical cannabis access. Access must be expanded to get medical cannabis properly off its feet and see long term development.”

Many more details are available to review in Volteface’s report, which is viewable here.

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Overtourism and Why Amsterdam May Ban Tourists from Cannabis Cafes

Amsterdam’s cannabis culture has long been the stuff of legends for potheads around the world, especially for those coming from more restrictive environments. However, these fantasies of a city friendly to cannabis tourists may soon be put to bed. The jury is out: Amsterdam has had it up to here with rowdy tourists and many […]

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New German Government Plans to Legalize Cannabis

Politicians forming Germany’s new government have agreed to a plan to legalize cannabis use by adults and provide for regulated marijuana sales, according to media reports last week. The plan for the legalization of cannabis in Germany comes following September’s election for the Bundestag, the nation’s federal parliament.

The election brought down the Christian Democratic Union, which had led the government under Chancellor Angela Merkle for 16 years. Representatives of the center-left Social Democrats Party (SPD), which garnered the most votes in the federal election, are now negotiating with leaders of the environmentalist Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) to form a ruling coalition and establish a new government.

Last week, newspaper publisher Funke Mediengruppe reported that negotiators for the three parties had agreed to a plan to legalize cannabis in Germany that includes regulated retail sales to adults.

“We’re introducing the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption in licensed stores,” an unidentified spokesperson for the coalition said. “This will control the quality, prevent the transfer of contaminated substances and guarantee the protection of minors. We will evaluate the law after four years for social impact.”

The announcement seems to confirm a report earlier this month that representatives of the parties were including cannabis legalization in their discussions to establish the ruling coalition.

“Negotiators for the Social Democrats, Greens and pro-business Free Democrats are hammering out the details, including conditions under which the sale and use of recreational cannabis would be allowed and regulated, according to people familiar with the talks, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private,” Bloomberg wrote on Nov. 10.

Both the Green party and the FDP have called for cannabis to be legalized in Germany for recreational purposes for years. And in its party platform for this year’s election, the SPD characterized cannabis as a “social reality,” according to a report by the Independent, and advocated for an “appropriate political way of dealing with this.” The coalition government still must be formalized and a new chancellor to replace Merkle, who declined to run for reelection to the Bundestag, must be named before reforms can be put into place, however.

Medical Cannabis Legalized in Germany in 1998

Germany legalized cannabis for medical purposes in 1998, and in 2017 expanded the program to cover more patients, permit domestic production, and relax rules on the importation and exportation of cannabis products to and from other countries. But a bill to legalize recreational marijuana failed last year after the ruling coalition failed to support it.

Avihu Tamir, CEO and founder U.K.-based medical cannabis company Kanabo Group, said that cannabis legalization in Germany, Europe’s most populated country, could energize efforts at reform throughout the continent. Although the Netherlands has a long-held policy of tolerating cannabis use and sales and Luxembourg passed legislation allowing personal cultivation and use of cannabis last month, most of the European Union continues to maintain prohibitionist policies toward non-medical uses of marijuana.

“Germany’s decision to legalize cannabis is not just a game-changer for Germany, but a gamechanger for all of Europe,” Tamir told Cannabis Now in an email. “Even before the deal is finalized, countries across the EU will begin their own process toward legalization as they race to catch up and reap the financial rewards that legalization will offer.”

With only medicinal uses of cannabis legalized so far, Germany is already Europe’s largest market for legal cannabis. And if the country expands reform to include recreational use, the economic impact could be a tempting reason for other nations to follow suit.

“Some reports predict the cannabis market in Germany could add around 3.4 billion euros in tax revenue to the nation’s economy every year,” said Tamir. “The legal cannabis market in Europe is predicted to be worth 3.2 billion euros by 2025 – but this move by Germany could see that increase. At that level of revenue, and at a time when countries edge closer to more lockdowns and the hit to economies that will follow, this is a no brainer for governments and leaders.”

But not all Germans are ready to take the step of cannabis legalization. When news broke last month that the incoming coalition was considering legalizing cannabis, Oliver Malchow, the head of the GdP German police union (GdP), told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that he could not support the plan.

“There must finally be an end to trivializing the joint,” said Malchow, adding that the country already sees enough trouble from “legal but dangerous” alcohol. It does not make sense, he argued, to “open the door to another dangerous and often trivialized drug” such as cannabis.

And Rainer Wendt, the chairman of Germany’s second police officer’s union DPolG, said that legalizing cannabis will lead to an increase in traffic collisions.

“It would be the beginning of a stoned future instead of the launch of a modern Germany,” he said.

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Exclusive: Heilung Speaks Out on Cannabis and Ritual

Heilung has made an impact on the entire world with its powerful, ritualistic brand of Germanic folk music. The band is known for its inclusive, global approach, bringing indigenous people on stage at every performance to help celebrate the ritual of humanity and music. 

But, until now, the band members have had to stay silent on one crucial part of their ritual world—cannabis. Now, as cannabis acceptance is finally coming to Europe, they decided to speak out and share with High Times how cannabis has influenced their journey. 

We spoke with vocalist and world-famous tattoo artist Kai Uwe Faust about how cannabis plays a role in his songwriting and ritual practice.

Photo by Addison Herron-Wheeler

What made you feel that now is the time to finally speak out about cannabis?

I used to sell High Times magazines because I worked in a head shop in Germany, so when this invitation came through, I had to say yes. [But I hesitated before because] a lot of countries in Europe keep it on the illegal side, and that limits certain information that people can share and still be safe. 

How does cannabis play into the realms of spirituality and music for you?

First of all, it gives me peace of mind to actually truly become creative, because I wasn’t always so focused. If I were born today, they would have raised me on Ritalin and just parked me in a corner somewhere. 

Coming from a Christian household, I was very wild, very aggressive. But with regular consumption, it really did seem to shift something in my mind, and it makes me peaceful and quiet enough to sit down and start drawing, start writing, and contribute to my surroundings in a much more positive way. 

How does it come into play with being more connected to spirituality?
It allows me to really slow down, take a slow walk in the forest, actually appreciate my surroundings and not have my brain processing so quickly. 

It really opened me up as an artist to take a meditative look at nature and see the natural, geometric patterns in nature, the grids and structures, which really influenced my art as well. 

How does cannabis impact you if you consume before going onstage or before band practice? 

That’s a weird one because in the rehearsal situation, I’m usually pretty stoned, but on performance day, I don’t smoke that much. Then it’s really time to get the beast out, and I have to push myself over the edge. There’s a wild energy to it, and I really get to this restless point, and [not smoking] just pushes me over. 

Heilung
Photo by Addison Herron-Wheeler

Where do you want to see legalization headed in Europe? What do you hope the future holds?

I really hope that Europe gets completely on board with legalization. It has a lot of benefits on many levels. Police can focus on the more important work, and the countries can get more money and revenue. 

Also, then there would be no pressure, no attraction to something illegal. You can try it if you want it, but there’s nothing taboo about it, and if you don’t want to, that’s fine, too. It keeps it off the streets and out of the illegal market. 

What’s your favorite way to consume? 

Oh without a doubt, mixed with tobacco. That’s how I got started, and that’s still how I smoke. 

Do you have a particular strain you gravitate towards? 

Sometimes, since it is still illegal in most of Europe, I take what I can get. But if it’s available, I gravitate towards Northern Lights. I like those very much. I was also in Denver, and the lady at the dispensary advised me to try Ghost Train, and I really liked that too. 

Why is it important to you to specifically invite indigeouns people on stage with you when you play shows?

We have a standing invitation everywhere we go, so that we can represent ancient people all over the world. It’s cool because we see so many similarities. For example, when we were wrapping up our show yesterday, we were all wearing traditional European stuff, and all the First Nations dancers were wearing their traditional clothing. At the end of the night, we found a ring cross bracelet, and we had no idea who it belonged to, since that symbol is found all over the world. 

heilung.bandcamp.com

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European Recreational Cannabis Reform: Will Guernsey Go Next?

For those watching the European cannabis discussion develop, one of the most interesting places to be right now is the island of Guernsey. Located between France and the UK, the island has been going gangbusters on the medical reform question for several years now.

Now, there is a call for the island to go whole hog on the recreational reform discussion—and even more interesting, the petition is being championed by a political leader who also, not coincidentally, just resigned from the island’s Home Affairs Committee over its cannabis laws. Apparently, Marc Leadbeater’s role as a director of a local hemp company caused other members of the committee to question his perspective on drug reform.

Leadbeater is now proposing a specific political process—namely a requete—to discuss full legalization. If put forward by seven of the States members, the issue must go before the Guernsey government.

This flurry of interest from government officials follows, within days, a statement by the former Chief Minister of the island, Gavin St. Pier. St. Pier shared that he believes cannabis should be legalized to better regulate, license and tax the industry for the benefit of the island’s economy.

Cannabis cultivation license opportunities have been available since July of this year. The island is also home to extraction companies.

The concept of cannabis as an economic redevelopment tool for the acres of empty greenhouses that dot the island has been hot here for a while. 

Why is the Furore Significant?

There are several reasons that the timing of these contretemps is so interesting. 

The first of course is that both Luxembourg and Switzerland are moving forward with recreational markets, even of the trial variety, within the next two years. As a small island, Guernsey could well follow this trend and at this point, have a major impact on the debate no matter how big its native market ends up being.

Here is why—beyond becoming potentially the third (or fourth if Portugal continues to also move forward) country in Europe to go fully recreational. The island is on the British side of Brexit. As a result, Guernsey would also become, if all of this pro cannabis fervor pans out, the first part of the UK to embrace adult use reform. 

That would be a truly major step.

The State of Cannabis Reform in the Guernsey UK

Sadly, despite a lot of noise, the government in the UK has not stepped up to the cannabis discussion in the same way that Germany has. While it is technically possible to receive medical cannabis (in very limited forms) under the National Health Service (or NHS), forward reform has come very slowly. Even patients who are approved for use (including those with MS) are not obtaining their cannabis.

On top of this, the main condition cannabis is used to treat in Germany, chronic pain, has been left out of the discussion so far by the British medical authorities.

The only disease (and population of patients) that has also managed to capture public and as a result political imagination, is children with epilepsy. And while this has been very good at moving political will, by inches, and highly reluctantly, in favor of more medical reform, this has not, so far, created a patient base on public health at least.

In Germany, in contrast, there are now an estimated 130,000 patients four and a half years after the government mandated that cannabis be covered under public health insurance as a drug of last resort and backed a domestic cultivation bid.

Germany’s cannabis discussion is far from sorted either—even on the medical front. However, in contrast to the UK, the country is light-years ahead.

The only sure-fire way to get access to medical cannabis in the UK right now is to see a doctor in a private medical clinic. Of course, this option is off limits to most just because of cost. So is the practice of obtaining a personal import license.

As a result, reform in the UK has been stalled, although not for lack of enthusiasm on the part of the budding industry. Cannabis conferences in the UK are selling out this fall. The CBD business has proceeded like gangbusters. There are private specialty cannabis clinics for those who can afford it. And, despite all the flurry and fervor, the British cannabis press is certainly making noise.

Regardless, real reform is unlikely to happen first on the mainland.

That is why this move on Guernsey is now so politically important—not just on the island itself—but set against a much broader backdrop of regional reform on both sides of Brexit.

No matter what happens, in other words, the horse has certainly left the barn—and is unlikely to be the last one to do so.

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Fact Check: Is Luxembourg the First European Country to Legalize Cannabis?

Has Luxembourg become the first to legalize cannabis in Europe? Reports are circulating that the country of 600,000 recently became the first country in Europe to legalize the production and consumption of cannabis. However, news of this should be taken with a grain of salt. Despite growing movements for cannabis reform in Europe, many countries […]

The post Fact Check: Is Luxembourg the First European Country to Legalize Cannabis? appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Luxembourg to Become First EU Country to Legalize Cannabis Cultivation and Consumption

The European country of Luxembourg (also called the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), which shares borders with Belgium, Germany and France, has a population of approximately 62,000 people. As one of the 27 countries that make up the European Union (EU), it could officially become the first in the EU to legalize cannabis cultivation.

The Luxembourg government announced on October 22 that it would be changing its laws on cannabis, with the intention of legalizing cultivation as well as personal consumption. The changes are included in a defense measure (which includes a total of 27 measures targeted at drug-related crime) that is targeting drug crimes in the country, according to Minister of Justice Sam Tanson.

“We thought we had to act, we have an issue with drugs and cannabis is the drug that is most used and is a large part of the illegal market,” Tamson said at a press conference. “We want to start by allowing people to grow it at home. The idea is that a consumer is not in an illegal situation if he consumes cannabis and that we don’t support the whole illegal chain from production to transportation to selling where there is a lot of misery attached. We want to do everything we can to get more and more away from the illegal black market.”

Adults over 18 years old would be allowed to cultivate up to four of their own cannabis plants at home. The location of these plants would be permitted in any residence, both indoors or outdoors, as well as on balconies, terraces and gardens. According to The Guardian, cannabis seeds would also be legal to obtain. Cannabis seeds would eventually be sold in shops, or purchasable online. Luxembourg officials also altered the punishment of possession.

The consumption or possession of cannabis under three grams is now a misdemeanor instead of a criminal offense. Prior to these new changes, a possession fine ranged from €251 to €2,500. “Above three grams, nothing changes, you will be considered a dealer,” Tanson said at the press conference. “Nothing changes for car drivers either: there is still zero tolerance.”

The reasoning behind Luxembourg officials’ decision to embrace cannabis is to curb the growth of illegal sales on the black market. However, this is only the beginning of the country’s path toward legalization. Tanson described the October 22 announcement as “a first step in our project to legalize recreational cannabis.” No announcement was made in regards to an official launch date, since this legislation is not yet set in stone. It must pass through the Chamber of Deputies next. According to translated text from the Luxemburger Wort, a local Luxembourg newspaper, Tanson expects “further measures to be taken by the end of the term, in 2023.”

One of Luxembourg’s three political parties, The Greens, posted a press release expressing the party’s approval of cannabis legislation. “The war on cannabis has failed. The announcements by Justice Minister Sam Tanson represent a fundamental reorientation of Luxembourg’s drug policy,” the press release states. “Finally, the use of cannabis is being regulated and a legal alternative to the black market is being created. This sets the course for a comprehensive regulation of cultivation and distribution. We expressly welcome the fact that the government will continue to push ahead with the coalition agreement project.”

Luxembourg has been previously committed to cannabis legalization in the past, having announced in August 2019 that it wanted to be the first EU country to legalize cannabis production and consumption. At the time, former Luxembourg Health Minister Etienne Schneider cited the failures of prohibition, and called upon other EU countries to loosen their own drug laws in relation to cannabis. Some reports shared that Luxembourg was using Canada’s approach to legalization. Schneider and other officials also toured a Canopy Growth Corporation facility in Smith Falls Canada back in 2018.

Previously, Luxembourg legalized medical cannabis in 2017, with its program having launched in 2018. The country could soon join other countries such as Uruguay, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2013, and Canada, which legalized in 2018, as well as numerous states in the U.S.

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