By / February 20, 2024

Changes in Cannabis Law in the European Union Could Be Coming

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has announced the publication of its latest work program for 2024-2026, marking a milestone in the agency’s history.

This event coincides with the upcoming transition of the EMCDDA into the newly established European Drugs Agency (EUDA), making the published work program the last in the current form of the agency.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is entering a new phase of activity, particularly in relation to cannabis. With the transformation into the European Drugs Agency (EUDA) and the expansion of its tasks, the EMCDDA emphasizes assisting policymakers in shaping cannabis policy. Here’s what you need to know about this change.

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What Changes Await Us?

In Europe, the approach to cannabis is changing. Many countries are beginning to soften their laws, moving from prohibitions to more open policies. The EMCDDA is observing these changes and plans to assist countries in making informed decisions. The goal is for cannabis policy to be based on solid evidence and data, not just views and stereotypes.

Malta and Luxembourg have already allowed home cultivation and personal use of cannabis, similar to the Netherlands, which is experimenting with a closed supply chain for coffee shops offering cannabis. Germany and the Czech Republic are also preparing to regulate recreational cannabis use.

What Does This Mean in Practice?

The EMCDDA intends to create special tools and resources to help countries formulate and evaluate their cannabis policies. This will be a “toolbox” full of information to help policymakers choose the best path. Whether it’s decriminalizing possession of cannabis for personal use or legalizing and controlling sales – each country will be able to tailor the policy to its needs, using the best available data.

What Are the Further Plans in the European Union?

The EMCDDA is working on building a robust database that will allow for precise tracking and analysis of cannabis-related trends. The agency wants policymakers to have access to current information that will help them make informed decisions. In the future, this means a better understanding of the impact of cannabis on society, public health, and the illegal drug market.

What Does This All Mean for Cannabis Policy in the European Union?

Thanks to the work of the EMCDDA, European countries will have a solid foundation for shaping their cannabis policies. This is a step towards making more informed and thoughtful decisions. This could mean changes in how cannabis is treated in law – from legalization to more balanced regulations. All to ensure that policy is more adapted to the realities of the 21st century and does not rely on principles built decades ago when knowledge about cannabis was much more limited.

The EMCDDA’s work program for 2024-2026 is set to mark new directions for development and adaptation to the changing reality of drug law in the European Union. The transition to the European Drugs Agency (EUDA) opens new possibilities and challenges for the agency. With joint efforts, based on the solid foundations developed by the EMCDDA, the new agency has the potential to change the current EU drug policy activity, ensuring the safety and health of EU citizens. The agency is also to focus on developing new resources that will help in reducing cannabis-related harm and improving understanding of available treatment methods, including online assistance.

European Union Expanding Horizons of Psychedelic Policy

The EMCDDA/EUDA is also stepping up its efforts to spread knowledge about the medical use of controlled psychedelic substances in the European Union. Recently, the European Union took a significant step in this direction, granting €6.5 million for research on the use of psilocybin in palliative care. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also organizing a groundbreaking meeting titled “Towards a New EU Regulation on Psychedelics,” aimed at establishing regulatory guidelines for the development and therapeutic use of these substances in Europe. Rapid changes in this area require a better understanding of the effectiveness of these substances, potential harms, and appropriate policy responses.


Changes in European cannabis policy are taking place in the context of global trends towards the legalization and regulation of recreational cannabis markets. This is a challenge and an opportunity for member states to adjust their approaches in light of these trends. In 2024 and beyond, the EMCDDA/EUDA plans to build the foundations for a “cannabis policy toolkit” that will contain practical tools and resources to support policymakers in implementing evidence-based decisions in the field of cannabis policy. In 2024, the agency plans to further disseminate the support package to better assist policymakers and planners in developing and evaluating cannabis policy in their countries.

These changes in cannabis policy in Europe are a response to the growing understanding that policy must evolve with science, society, and global trends. The EMCDDA/EUDA plays a key role in providing data, analysis, and support that help shape these policies based on solid evidence and best practices.

(Featured image by ALEXANDRE LALLEMAND via Unsplash)

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