Skip to main content

Policymaker Points To Schengen Agreement As Major Hurdle For European Cannabis Reform

europe flags european europe flags european

In the mid-1980s a big effort was waged in Europe to promote ‘free movement’ to help the continent’s working population by increasing the places where people could feasibly carve out a viable living. Free movement involves lowering controls at borders for residents of participating jurisdictions.

The concept of free movement reached a big milestone in 1985 with the initial signing of the Schengen Agreement (named after a small village in Luxembourg). Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were the original signers, agreeing to gradually remove controls at their internal borders and to ‘introduce freedom of movement for all nationals of the signatory countries.’

The implementation of the Schengen Agreement officially began in 1995 and initially involved just seven EU countries. However, it has since expanded to most EU countries, with the exception of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania. By many measures, the free movement effort has yielded several positives for the European continent.

Unfortunately, it may also be a major hurdle for cannabis policy modernization efforts on the continent according to Mikuláš Peksa, Chairperson of the European Pirate Party.

“Any country wishing to legalise cannabis faces obstacles making legislation compliant with international agreements.” Mikuláš Peksa stated according to original reporting by Business of Cannabis.

“However, this is achievable particularly for countries outside the European Union, but the biggest obstacle for countries in the EU is the Schengen Agreement.” Peksa went on to state. He also indicated that an amendment to the Schengen  Agreement may be on the way. “Our aim is to make legalisation possible for all member states.”

Whether an amendment makes it to the finish line or not in the near future is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure – the longer lawmakers drag their feet at the continental level, the farther removed from reality continental and international agreements will become.

The legal cannabis industry is on the move at the national level in many parts of Europe, in addition to the long-established unregulated market that is found throughout the continent. To refrain from modernizing continental and international agreements in order to permit countries to modernize their own domestic cannabis policies is to deny reality. Nations like Germany will have their efforts slowed down by the European Union to some degree, but certainly not halted.

Cannabis commerce and use are not going anywhere. The status quo is a complete waste of limited public resources by every measure and it’s beyond time for a new approach. There is no valid reason why countries in Europe, and the rest of the world, shouldn’t be able to set their own policies for domestic cannabis activity. If a country wants to cling to prohibition, as ridiculous as that approach would be, then so be it.

The seemingly never-ending wrangling between national lawmakers in Europe and the European Union is both frustrating and exhausting. Fortunately, the coalition of pro-modernization lawmakers in Europe is increasing in size, and the same is true beyond the continent’s borders where the Schengen Agreement and other European provisions do not apply.

The European Union has to be feeling the squeeze whether they want to admit it or not, and at some point, it will presumably yield movement, both in regards to the Schengen Agreement and to all other provisions that are currently holding cannabis policy modernization efforts back.