Cannabis in France is illegal for personal use but remains one of the most popular illegal drugs. Limited types of cannabis-derived products are permitted for medical uses. People smoking a joint in France face a maximum penalty of a year behind bars and a €3,750 fine for the first offense.
Not surprisingly legalizing cannabis has come up regularly in France, but the discussion never has never gotten far. In fact, it was only this month that authorities announced medical cannabis spray Sativex had been authorized for sale in France, though only by prescription and solely to multiple sclerosis patients.
It stands in marked contrast to France's more liberal neighbor to the north, The Netherlands, which decriminalized personal use of pot nearly 40 years ago. American states Colorado and Washington went a step further when their voters fully legalized personal possession and use of marijuana in 2013.
Is it France’s turn next? French Senator Esther Benbassa, a green party member who represents an area on the south-east border of Paris, believes it’s time to change. She also claims the legalization law she proposed is the first of its kind in France.
Her law would allow government-run retail stores to sell marijuana to adults for recreational use, though the full details won’t be available until the law is unveiled to the press on February 6th. Benbassa told The Local why she is pushing for legalization.
“It’s a subject that remains taboo in France. We have the impression that if we legalize cannabis, all the children, everyone, is going to start taking it. We are among the countries with the most restrictive laws in Europe, but at the same time, the number of cannabis smokers continues to increase. There is really a paradox.
Yet 13.4 million French people admit to sparking up at least once in their life. Even France’s top cop, Interior Minister Manuel Valls, said in a recent interview, he’d tried it “maybe once.”The numbers go up as you look at the younger portion of the population. France had the unhappy distinction of being the European “champion” of teen pot smokers in 2011 when 24 percent of its 16-year-old kids admitted to smoking at least once a month, daily Le Monde reported.
Per a poll conducted by CSA in November 2013, 55% of French people are opposed to the decriminalisation of cannabis, while 44% said that the prohibition on cannabis is an abridgment of individual liberty.
Wednesday 27 Mar 2013
THE first of an estimated 400 "cannabis social clubs" in France have formally registered their existence.
Fifteen clubs have lodged declarations at their local préfecture, registering as a not-for-profit association.
The clubs bring together growers and consumers of cannabis, who share their produce but do not sell it. They are considered illegal in France, but legally recognized in neighboring Spain and Belgium.
A notice advising of the formal creation of the French Federation of Cannabis Social Clubs appeared in the Journal Officiel earlier this week.
Local branches have been declared in the Loire-Atlantique, Vendée, Creuse, Charente-Maritime, Indre-et-Loire, and Haute-Vienne.
Authorities could close the clubs down at any point - but organizers hope for long legal delays before that happens.
Harvesting and working hemp
The smoker of Haschisch by Émile Bernard