A group of French MPs are planning to introduce a bill that would legalize the use and the distribution of cannabis in the country. The group, which includes members of President Emmanuel Macron’s party, La Republique, are taking on the legislative initiative after the Council of Economic Analysis (CAE) recommended that the government create a “public monopoly” of marijuana production and distribution.
The CAE advises the French prime minister on matters of the economy. Earlier this month, the CAE has published a report noting that the French people, especially the minors, are among the biggest users of cannabis in the European Union despite the country’s repressive policies. The report stated that their current prohibition system does not work and only serves to benefit organized crime.
According to the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction, 41.1 percent of people aged 15 to 64 had already used cannabis at least once in their life. This figure is more than twice the European average of 18.9 percent.
Thus, based on their study and analysis of recent foreign experiences, the CAE recommends legalizing recreational cannabis and strictly regulating it. According to them, doing so would allow the government to restrict access to the product for the minors, fight organized drug-related crime, and develop an economic sector that would create employment opportunities and generate tax revenues.
You can read the CAE’s report (in French) here.
By the CAE’s calculations, cannabis could generate as much as €2.8 billion in additional annual tax receipts and create up to 57,000 jobs. The report wrote that part of the money that goes to state coffers could be channeled into educational and town policies “in sensitive urban areas.”
The prospect of full cannabis legalization in France remains to be a distant one even if the CAE’s recommendation came from a government unit led by Macron’s economic program adviser during his presidential campaign, Philippe Martin.
Macron has campaigned for partial decriminalization of cannabis to free police time and to allow law enforcement officers to focus on more serious crime. So, following new regulations that came into effect in 2018, those who are found with marijuana for recreational use are fined €150 to €200.
There are MPs who are against the idea of legalizing cannabis for recreational use.
Transport minister Elisabeth Borne said that France wouldn’t legalize recreational cannabis but could consider legalizing it for medical purposes. She said that there is an ongoing discussion about the medicinal use of cannabis.
Limited types of cannabis-derived products have been allowed for medical use since 2014.