France’s war on recreational cannabis use has failed and should be abandoned, says the body that advises the government on social policy.
Instead, it should be legalised and regulated, the Conseil économique, social et environnemental (CESE) says in a new report.
“Despite the implementation of a prohibition system over 50 years ago – one of the most repressive in Europe – France is the EU country which has the highest proportion of drug users,” it says.
Around 45% of those aged 15 to 64 in France have used cannabis at least once, compared to 27% across the EU.
The CESE, composed of representatives from civil society, including unions and associations, is calling for the drug to be legalised for adults from licensed sellers.
Move from punishment to education
For minors and young adults, there would be a move from punishment to education and prevention.
It recommends regulating production with “complete and transparent traceability from seed to consumption”, limits on volumes, and a focus on organic agriculture.
The public body also suggests creating a tax to fund “prevention and care, cannabis research, redeveloping neighbourhoods, and supporting people who have suffered the consequences of trafficking”.
The Green mayor of Bordeaux suburb Bègles reacted by offering to host a national experiment into legalisation.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin is an outspoken opponent of legalisation, and recent years have seen a crackdown, particularly with the nationwide introduction of €200 fines for drug use in September 2020.
Rising number of offences
Around 210,000 offences were recorded in 2021, up from 180,000 in previous years.
In January 2022, MPs from La France Insoumise (left) put forward a bill to legalise cannabis, which was rejected.
The country did, however, begin a two-year experiment into the use of medical cannabis in March 2021.
This was recently extended for a further year. Germany plans to legalise the drug in 2024, subject to approval by the European Commission.