MP to propose debate on cannabis legalisation in France

Record levels of consumption mean the current situation is untenable, according to the head of a parliamentary commission on the subject

1 March 2021
Cannabis plant. MP to propose referendum on cannabis legalisation in FranceJean-Baptiste Moreau MP said: "Prohibition is not working. It just creates a parallel market."
By Hannah Thompson

The legalisation of recreational cannabis is “possible” in France, and the country should hold a public consultation or referendum on its use, the head of a parliamentary commission on the subject has said.

The suggestion was made by Jean-Baptiste Moreau, MP for Creuse and the head of a parliamentary commission on the use of recreational cannabis.

On Sunday February 28, he said: “We will make proposals within a month.

“We really must have a debate to enlighten citizens on this issue. Today we have a ban, but we have record levels of consumption. So the situation is untenable.”

Mr Moreau said: “Prohibition is not working. It just creates a parallel market. We have a significant parallel economy, which finances other networks, such as arms trafficking and others.”

He said that “decriminalisation would not be enough” and that the government would need to establish a system of “checks on the quality of products and the price of products sold”.

Asked if he believed that the legalisation of recreational cannabis would be politically possible in France, the MP said: “I think so.”

He said that while awaiting the decision, “we must have a prevention campaign in collèges and lycées to avoid the dangers of abusive and frequent consumption of cannabis, because it’s a real danger”.

It comes after the French parliament launched an online questionnaire to better understand public opinion towards recreational cannabis use.

The questionnaire was available on the Assemblée nationale website, and accepted responses from January 13 to February 28.

Responses will be incorporated into any future citizens’ consultation, anonymised in any given report, and then published anonymously on the Assemblée nationale website.

France has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in Europe, with the most recent figures from consumer data and statistics provider Statista showing use at 11%, the same level as Spain, putting the countries in joint first place.

This puts France ahead of Italy (10.2%), the Netherlands (9.6%), Finland (8.2%), Croatia and the Czech Republic (7.9%), Ireland (7.7%) and the UK (7.1%).

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