Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

The Best of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2018: and the Palme d’or goes to....

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2018: Lebanese film 'Capharnaum' wows critics

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo: vaccinations to start on Sunday

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The Royal wedding: Pomp & controversy

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2018: John Travolta brings the mob to the red carpet

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Summit or No Summit: North Korea angry over military drill

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Could thawing permafrost unleash long-gone deadly viruses?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

French and noble in 2018: What remains of France's aristocracy?

Read more

France

France looks to soften laws against cannabis use

© François Nascimbeni, AFP | A man smoking a cannabis joint in Charleville-Mezieres, Eastern France on April 13, 2016

Text by Emilie BOYER KING

Latest update : 2018-01-23

France has the toughest laws against smoking cannabis in Europe yet more people consume this drug than in almost any other European country. A new government report recommends introducing fixed fines to tackle the problem.

In France, the most recent figures available show that 17 million people have tried cannabis, 1.4 million people use it regularly – 700,000 on a daily basis – and consumption is on the rise. Yet laws against smoking pot are harsher than anywhere else in Europe: under current legislation, users can face up to a year in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros.

A new parliamentary report to be released on Wednesday recommends introducing a fixed fine of 150 to 200 euros instead. It concludes that current legislation is not working. In 2015, there were around 64,000 drug-related convictions – 40,000 of which were for illegal drug use. Out of those, only 3,098 resulted in a prison sentence.

Police officers are crumbling under the weight of bureaucracy

Despite the low number of convictions, the country’s police officers are crumbling under the weight of the bureaucracy related to these offences.

Softening current legislation would help to reduce this workload, the report contends, and free up the police to concentrate their efforts on the fight against trafficking instead.

“The fixed fine of 150-200 euros that I propose would enable police officers in the field to stop the legal procedure there and then with the person who has been caught,” MP Robin Reda, who headed the report with MP Eric Pouillat, told Le Parisien. "The advantage of this is that the punishment is immediate and systematic.”

With such a high number of cannabis users in France, should smoking a joint remain a criminal offence? On this topic, both men differ. Pouillat from the ruling party 'La République en Marche' believes legal procedures should be launched if the fixed-fine is not paid within 45 days. Reda, who is from the opposition party Les Républicains, believes they should be dropped altogether.

Legalising cannabis is not on the cards

If the report points towards a softening of the law, legalising cannabis is not on the cards in France. Speaking on French radio Monday, France's finance minister Bruno LeMaire made this clear. “This is my personal conviction: cannabis must not be legalised. On the other hand, we must take a good hard look at where we have gone wrong … we have the harshest laws in Europe, yet the highest consumption rates.”

In France 40.9% of the population consumes cannabis - compared with 35% in Denmark, 30.40% in Spain, and 25% in the Netherlands.

Date created : 2018-01-22

  • FRANCE

    Call for legalisation reignites cannabis debate in France

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French tops teen cannabis use survey: WHO

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    France restates anti-cannabis stance after criticism

    Read more

COMMENT(S)