France should legalise cannabis, says MPs report

Wednesday May 05 2021
world03pix

An activist smokes out of a glass pipe during the annual NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally in support of the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical use, on May 1, 2021 in New York City. MPs in France are also urging for legalisation of cannabis. PHOTO/FILE/AFP

By AFP

France should legalise cannabis so as to regain control of sales and better protect minors, a group of cross-party MPs said in a report Wednesday, a finding at odds with the government's tough anti-drugs stance. 

Despite an expensive clampdown approach that excessively mobilises the police, "the state is helplessly witnessing the normalisation of cannabis for young people and the deterioration of security", MPs said in the report. 

The budget allocated to police and border controls for anti-drugs policies almost doubled between 2012 and 2018, reaching 1.08 billion euros (around $1.30 billion) a year. 

Yet France has the highest cannabis consumption in the European Union, with 5 million users a year and 900,000 daily users. 

"A regulated legalisation is the best way to take back control and protect the French," coordinator of the report Caroline Janvier, from Macron's ruling Republic on the Move party, told AFP. 

Use of drugs is punishable by up to one year in prison and a 3,750-euro (around $4,500) fine, but in practice harsh sentences are very rarely handed out. 

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The government's new policies of dismantling drug-dealing spots and issuing on-the-spot 200-euro fines are doomed to fail like their predecessors, said the report. 

Cannabis is of particular concern for minors as it doubles the risks of schizophrenia or anxiety disorders, yet not much is done to raise awareness, the report said. 

If cannabis were legalised, 2 billion euros (around $2.4 billion) could be raised to fund prevention policies, MPs said. 

"We propose a real risk-reduction approach to stop waging war against the user to redirect the police to the fight against trafficking," Janvier said. 

The report pointed to the results of legalisation in more than a dozen US states and in Canada, which appears to show a dip in minors' consumption rate. 

In March, France kicked off a two-year trial involving 3,000 patients, which could lead to marijuana's legalisation for medical use.

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