The debate over French legalization ignores race, religion and incarceration

Credit: Leafly

In France the data suggest that today, 1 held on 6 has either consumed, owned or sold cannabis

Last summer in France, dozens of "CBD cafés" opened their doors throughout the country. Exploiting a legal loophole originally created for hemp producers, these companies have sold cannabidiol-infused oils, beverages and ointments that is proving to be a cure for insomnia, anxiety and more. . The French government reacted quickly and in mid-June, he had officially banned the sale of CBD. The cafes of the CBD disappeared in a few weeks.

The brief French experience with cannabidiol seems to have introduced the legalization debate

The June 19, dozens of French economists, doctors and politicians published an open letter in the popular newspaper The Obs, denouncing the "bankruptcy" of the prohibition of cannabis and imploring the nation to "Legalize it! Shortly thereafter, an Economic Advisory Council to the French Prime Minister issued a rapport criticizing the drug war in France as an expensive "French failure" and demanding the legalization of cannabis for financial reasons.

Then, in July, the French Agency for the Safety of Medicines approved the launch of medical trials on cannabis in France, which doctors and activists have been demanding since 2013.

The French debate on drug policy largely echoes similar conversations that have led a dozen US states to legalize and regulate cannabis since 2014, but with one difference: France has practically ignored the link between race, cannabis and mass incarceration.

There is no demographic breakdown, because the French credo of "absolute equality" among citizens makes it illegal since 1978 to collect statistics based on race, ethnicity or religion. French law makes minorities invisible. The sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar , who studies the French penitentiary system, has discovered that about half of the 69 000 people incarcerated today in France are Muslims of Arab descent.

Muslims represent only 9% of the 67 million inhabitants of France.

The disproportionate impact of French drug legislation on Muslim men is not surprising given that the French have for a long time been associating Muslims with cannabis, especially with hashish. The French of the nineteenth century thought that this light drug provoked madness, violence, and criminality among North Africans, some of whom were Muslims.

Although this is largely a fiction, the HASCHISCHINS Muslim cannabis users have gain territory in France, especially in medicine. Medical hashish, mainly in the form of dye, has fleuri in France during the 1830 and 1840 years.

France's open war on drugs

The facts suggest that the ban on cannabis in the last 50 years has been disproportionately punished. About a fifth of French prisoners have been convicted of drug-related offenses, according to the French Ministry of Justice, a rate comparable to that of the United States. Almost all are men.

According to one survey commissioned by the French National Assembly in January 2018, on 117 421 arrests for drugs in France in 2010, 86% concerned cannabis. The arrests of cannabis are also increasing rapidly. According to the same study, the number of people arrested each year in France for "simple use" of cannabis has increased tenfold between 2000 and 2015, from 14501 to 139683 arrests.

If France takes measures to regulate legal cannabis, many doctors, cannabis smokers and libertarian economists will certainly rejoice.

Can the legalization of cannabis in France put an end to the black market?

In terms of consumption, the French are the undisputed European champions. Reforming the framework of this consumption which weighs on public spending and fuels organized crime is a major challenge. Legalization is the most often advanced solution. What would be the effects?

In 2016, 42% of French aged between 15 and 64 years said they had already used cannabis. The number of regular smokers is close to one million. Legalization is often presented as a solution to control the high consumption of the substance. This would allow the state to regulate the composition of the product and label it, while setting prices and taxation, as well as alcohol or cigarettes. The revenues generated by the State would be substantial, according to Emmanuelle Auriol, professor at Toulouse School of Economics and member of the Council of Economic Analysis (CAE). The annual consumption is estimated at 500 tons and the current selling price of illegal cannabis is 11 euros per gram according to the OFDT. With the VAT and the excise tax, the price TTC of the legal cannabis would be with 9 euros the gram. Tax revenue would therefore amount to 2 billion for the state every year.

Therapeutic cannabis will be tested in France in 2020?

According to Le Monde, patients will not be able to smoke "prescription joints". In fact, doctors will prescribe inhaled products of dried flower oil or ingested products such as drops or drinkable solutions. Not all doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis. Patients will have to call in specialists at university hospitals and after consultations in pain centers.

During this phase of experimentation, the therapeutic cannabis may be prescribed in patients withtherapeutic impasse". The latter suffering from diseases that are resistant to treatment or that can not be relieved by other therapies. These include some forms of epilepsy, neuropathic pain, side effects following chemotherapy or palliative care, uncontrolled muscle contractions or other nervous system-related conditions.

The Agence du médicament gave the go-ahead for an experiment. The inclusion of the first patients should intervene early 2020.

In the end, is France on the verge of legalizing cannabis?

The French Senate has given the green light to legalize cannabis, but only for people who need it for medical purposes.

What is the new rule on cannabis?

The French Senate has given the green light to a two-year trial to legalize the prescription of cannabis by doctors.

So it will be legal?

Not for everybody. The drug will only be used for medical purposes and must be prescribed by a doctor.

Doctors also have very strict rules, cannabis can be prescribed "only as a last resort, after trying other available therapeutic treatments," said Professor Nicolas Authier, head of pharmacology at the pain clinic University Hospital Clermont-Ferrand. FRANCE 24 .

Cancer, certain types of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, palliative care and pain that does not respond to standard treatments are some of the conditions for which it may be prescribed.

According to patient groupsbetween 300000 and 1 million patients may be allowed to use it.

So, how will French patients get a prescription?

The supply chain is another area closely controlled by the bill. Therefore, do not grow it in your garden.

"The challenge is to ensure a French supply chain for production [of these pharmaceuticals]," said French MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau.

He represents the department de la Creuse, which made an offer to the government to obtain a license to produce medical cannabis, under strictly controlled conditions. It is hoped that this will also stimulate the sluggish economy of La Creuse.

For the first part of the trial, France will have to import cannabis until it can dispose of its own reserve. People who grow cannabis for medical purposes must comply strict European regulations to ensure the consistent quality of the product.

Could this lead to a further loosening of cannabis laws?

The French government is clear that no. It follows a relaxation of the laws oflast year that allowed cannabis with very low concentrations (less than 0,2%) of the psychoactive ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), but that's what the government seems to want to go.

Professor Authier added, "There is little risk that cannabis for medical purposes will become recreational. It has different uses with different purposes. Those who take codeine for pain and those who smoke opium take the same substance but they do not have the same purpose. Similarly, medical grade cannabis will not satisfy those seeking recreational psychoactive effects.

Thus, those who want to use the drug for non-medical reasons must either continue to visit countries such as the Netherlands where it is legal, or risk arrest in France.

This article is republished from The Conversation and Leafly. Read the original article You can consult it by clicking here. .

Tags : FranceLawpolicePoliticProhibitionTrafic