France remains one of the most restrictive countries in terms of cannabis among the democracies. Paradoxically, it is also the country where consumption is the largest in Europe.
Even though the debate is restarted on how to deal with small-quantity ownership, public opinion seems to be evolving more and more for easing. Small point on the French situation in 2018.
When French money legally financed cannabis
At the beginning of the XXth century, in 1906, it is French who financed the Moroccan Board of Kifs and Tobacco whose seat was at Tangier. The purpose of this society was to enable the transformation of tobacco products and cannabis. In order to maintain control over the raw material, she signed contracts with the farmers producing cannabis. Even though metropolitan France was beginning 1916 to apply more restrictive legislation in this area, 10 years later in 1926, it allowed the extension of the culture north of Fez.
More incredible still, in 1932, a law forbade the cultivation, however the Régie controlled by the French had managed to maintain its exception until 1954.
Restrictive Legislative Framework: Prohibition and Prohibition
French law has a double peculiarity.
First of all there is the Mazeaud law of the December 31 1970. This law is simple. It prohibits all consumption of products classified as narcotics, including cannabis.
It treats the consumer both as a patient, but especially as a delinquent by risking one year in prison and 3750 euros fine.
Obviously the French law forbids the cannabis culture within the framework of a consumption personal. No legalization in this area. And when it comes to traffic, penalties go up: up to 30 years of prisons and 7,5 million euros fine. However in the courts, in specific cases, like that of Isabelle, quadriplegic, a flexibility how to put in place.
In terms of cultivation and importation, the only exception concerns products containing less than 0,2% THC.
But French law goes further. In addition to prohibition, the promotionin one way or another, consumption or its traffic is prohibited. Indeed, article L3421-4 of the public health code punished by 5 years of prison and 75000 euros this type of talk.
An evolution of opinion
Although opinion polls have not always favored cannabis because of its representation with the general public, an evolution has begun.
So, 2016 alone, there were 52% of the French to support the legalization of cannabis under state control. 84% even considered the current law as ineffective. The authorization of consumption is a subject dividing the generations. So it is the less than 60 years that are favorable, with 54%. At the same time, over 60 years reject the idea at 64%.
Another investigation reveals these changes in mentality. 26% of 35-49 years supported the decriminalization of cannabis in 1996. This figure has changed to 30% in 2012, then to 43% in April 2016.
This evolution of opinion may be due to the consumption in France. Thus 1,4 millions of French claim to have smoked a dozen times a month, and 700 000 daily.
And a change on the part of the political staff
In 2013, Manuel Valls had already suggested a decriminalization cannabis use by imposing a simple fine. The project had turned short in the face of the opposition of the then president, François Hollande.
During the 2017 presidential campaign, the right-wing primary candidate, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, went in the same way advocating decriminalization.
The latest evolution in date, comes from a parliamentary report advocating a fine ranging from 150 to 200 euros. This report indicates that there is an inapplication of the law by asserting that there is "de facto decriminalization". In concrete terms, this means that people arrested for cannabis use (140 000 per year), the vast majority receive a simple reminder of the law. This decriminalization was already planned in candidate Macron's projects. The latter wanted to consult beforehand.
Next Wednesday, the official report will be given to the President of the Republic, and from this moment decisions will undoubtedly be taken. To be continued.