French tobacco shops ‘ready’ for legalisation of cannabis

Loïc Venance, AFP | A tobacco shop sign in the western French city of Nantes on March 21, 2016.

As the French government re-examines the country’s obscure laws on cannabis use, tobacco shops are already looking to corner the market if the drug is legalised.


“We’re for the recreational use of cannabis if it’s legalised. And we’re ready to sell it in our tobacco shops”, Philippe Coy, president of the Confederation of Tobacco Shops, told French newspaper Le Parisien in an interview published on Saturday.

In mid-June, French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn announced that the government would re-examine the country’s drug laws, which allow for the sale of cannabis-derived products as long as they contain less than 2 percent THC (the main active ingredient).

The legal loophole has been exploited by a growing number of entrepreneurs in France, who have opened coffee shops selling “legal cannabis” products. Two venues, however, were forced to close in Paris last month under a law that prohibits the “transport, possession, offer or transfer, acquisition or use of narcotics”.

The recent confusion surrounding France’s cannabis laws have reignited calls for the drug's legalisation. Sensing a lucrative business opportunity, Coy said he had approached Buzyn with a proposal that would grant tobacco shops the right to sell cannabis products.

“On June 18th, I suggested to the health minister that we go even further by becoming the number-one reference network for cannabis, if it is one day legalised in France”, Coy said.

“If cannabinoids and, more generally, cannabis are authorised, we want to have a presence in the market. We’re even asking for exclusivity. We are in transition because cigarette sales are in a decline. So we have to seize any opportunity”, Coy concluded.

Although Buzyn has said that she supports the use of medical marijuana, she has been categorical in her opposition to recreational use of the drug.

“I am never hostile to something that can relieve pain… but I am against the legalisation of cannabis because I think it is a dangerous and toxic substance, which can lead to major cognitive problems in young people, as well as road accidents”, Buzyn told French radio RTL in June.

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