'Luxembourg can set an example in Europe' when it legalizes cannabis in 2020

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Big changes are coming to the small country of Luxembourg in the near future, writes Mia Thomsin.

In addition to free public transport, higher minimum wages and two additional public holidays, the current Luxembourg government has announced plans to legalize cannabis for recreational use. To get a sense of cannabis culture now and in the future for the small European country, we reached out to a spokesperson for Easy Going, an online shop that sells CBD-related products in Luxembourg. Here's what Mikael (who asked us to withhold his last name) has to say about the state of  cannabis culture in the the Grand Duchy.

Your shop sells CBD-related products. How would you describe your range and your clients?

We select high quality natural products that contain premium CBD only and less than 0.2 percent THC. It comes from passionate growers who respect the plant. It is important to us to offer unique rather than generic products.

In Luxembourg, CBD products are available for anyone of age [18 or older]. Our customers are men and women between the ages of 25 and 70. There are more and more senior people interested. We are not allowed to give any medical advice and our products are not advertised as treatments or cures for illness. If customers are looking for medical CBD products we recommend that they consult a doctor.

What kinds of recommendations are you allowed to give?

Our recommendations can be related to flavor and effect. All my recommendations are connected to my customers' needs and their feedback about former use and my personal experience. Some of our customers hope to stop smoking nicotine, some want to relax or sleep better, regulate daily anxieties or pain. Each variety has its own properties. And most recommendations are related to taste.

How are your products "unique" rather than "generic” and how do your growers “respect the plant”?

You need to compare different types of cannabis to know the difference. The unique products look like “Amsterdam” cannabis from the popular coffee shops: Beautiful flowers with strong and very good smells. The taste is amazing. In generic products you will not find this aroma. If your CBD blossoms only smell aromatic for two to three days, then maybe the smell was not natural in the first place. Other provides sometimes add substances to add smell or weight. These bad methods are known in the market but not to all customers. 

Our growers' respect for the plant comes from avoiding all chemical products and taking the needed time to pick the flower. Our growers don't speed up the growth and blooming process. As a customer you can notice this: If your CBD only smells aromatic for two to three days, then maybe the smell was not natural in the first place.

Could you tell us a bit about the history of your shop and how the legal situation in Luxembourg has influenced your existence and the range of your products?

During the CBD boom in Europe, we came up with the idea of opening a particularly natural CBD shop. We love natural products and we trust in CBD. We have decided to open a CBD shop that keeps focus on the quality. We chose to become an online store rather than a physical store since this allows for us to offer our customers the best quality at the best price.

How did you perceive the CBD boom in Europe, what did it look like?

Three years ago, only a handful of companies were selling CBD products. Until recently, cannabis has been predominantly associated with THC, the plant’s famously psychoactive and most abundant ingredient. For more than a year now, the focus has been shifting to the second-most abundant and, perhaps most importantly, non-intoxicating cannabinoid: cannabidiol or CBD. The public discovered CBD and were quickly convinced that it is great. Many shops opened in many European cities. Still, today, we’re talking about the boom. In my opinion, the boom is still in progress. 

Do you only ship products within Luxembourg? Or are you allowed to send your products anywhere?

Unlike THC, CBD is legal in Europe (with the exception of Slovakia). That’s why we send products everywhere in Europe. However, the CBD rate allowed is not the same for each country. For example Luxembourg allows 0.3 percent THC but Ireland [only allows up to] 0.2 percent THC.

What is competition like in the cannabis market?

We are not competing for profit. Indeed, we are aiming for a loyal clientele looking for a unique product rather than "one shot" customers who buy generic products. I hope this will allow us to last, build a strong customer base and grow step by step. Luxembourg being a relatively small country, I still think that the best way to manage the competition is word of mouth.

It looks like the full legalization of psychoactive cannabis products in Luxembourg is going to be a reality in 2020. How will legalization change your business and how will you prepare for 2020?

Indeed, this reality should come into existence in 2020. Legalization could generate a form of frenzy, excitement, even euphoria, one could say, with regards to the potential market. It is rare for a new market to be created like the one that might be created in 2020. It seems that Luxembourg might adopt the Canadian model. If that's the case, we'll have to be ready.

In Canada, the demand currently exceeds the supply. As a Benelux country, Luxembourg is closely connected to Belgium and the Netherlands and other neighboring countries. It is possible that the same phenomenon will occur here in Europe. Many questions remain unanswered. In my opinion, legalization doesn't mean that everyone can do whatever they want. Production and trade still must be closely regulated. Of course, we are thinking about the 2020 situation, but we have not planned to sell this type of product yet.

Are there disadvantages in legalization of THC for your business?

It's possible. For the moment I do not think so. Our customers buy CBD products because they want CBD. It's not an alternative to the THC product. Our current clients should still be here when legalization is a reality.

Luxembourg is a country associated with finances. Both because people are wealthier than they are in other places, and banking is a major industry — with the Luxembourg stock market influencing finances all over Europe. To what extent do you think legalization in Luxembourg and finances are connected?

I think it's 100 percent connected. We have to remind ourselves: in countries where cannabis is legal, investors always have eyes that shine and a wallet that opens as soon as they hear the word cannabis.

Take the example of Canada: the market value of the four largest cannabis producers — Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, Tilray and Aphria — is gigantic.

In Colorado, legalization has created 18,000 jobs in four years and generated unexpected tax revenues with a 30 percent tax: $50 million in the first year, far more than the state government expected. Colorado has had to pay $30 million back to its taxpayers, since its Constitution limits the maximum amount of tax it can collect.

Can you imagine? The same scenario is possible in Luxembourg.

Is this a scenario you hope for, both for Luxembourg and Europe?

In my opinion, Luxembourg can set an example in Europe. Did you see the other big news announced together with the full legalization of cannabis? Free public transport! I’m proud to work in the first European country to introduce free public transport throughout its territory.

Now about cannabis, I think Luxembourg takes a good path. I hope other countries will follow Luxembourg and legalize it.

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