Legalise cannabis in France, economic think tank says

Legalising recreational cannabis in France represents a "growing economic opportunity", according to a think tank

Recreational cannabis should be legalised in France, with a suggested fixed price of €9 per gram, an economic think tank under the authority of the Prime Minister has recommended.

Think tank le Conseil d’analyse économique (Council of Economic Analysis, CAE) published a 12-page report on the issue, saying that the legalisation of the drug would allow the country to “take back control of the market”.

France is already set to legalise cannabis for medical use, but this report went further, suggesting that recreational use should also be considered. It supported the suggestion with results from countries in which recreational cannabis is already legal, such as Uruguay, and certain states and provinces in the USA and Canada.

Authors of the report, Emmanuelle Auriol, professor at the École d’Économie in Toulouse, and Pierre-Yves Geoffard, professor at the École d’Économie in Paris, said: “While the situation is changing very rapidly around the world when it comes to recreational cannabis legalisation, the time has come for France to choose pragmatism, and to take back control.”

The think tank is independent, but has been placed under the authority - but not the command - of the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe.

The report has already been considered by the Prime Minister’s cabinet, but it is not clear if the recommendations will be taken into account.

A debate on the issue is scheduled this week, with several doctors and economists set to discuss the idea of a law for the “controlled legalisation” of cannabis and legalisation in the name of “pragmatism”, according to a “call” from 70 doctors and economists, published on news website L’Obs.

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This said: “The system of prohibition promoted by France over the past 50 years is a failure [and] weighs greatly on public finances”. It also helps boost organised crime, the article said.

It continued: “In contrast, the decision to legalise cannabis usually leads to a drop in criminality.”

National easy, legal access to the drug for people over 18 could see “a rise in use among regular consumers”, it admitted, but would also see “a drop in consumption among young people”.

The letter called for a national, central body for the production and distribution of cannabis, “under the supervision of an independent regulatory authority”. This would “efficiently manage the market” and “avoid derivatives” from being sold.

The regulator would also fix the price to a standard amount, verify the quality of the product, and decide where and when it could be sold, through licences to authorised producers and specialist shops, it said.

The CAE report also recommended a fixed price of €9 per gram, with a VAT of 20% included. This would equate to €2 billion for the public coffers, it said. This price would also fight illegal networks, it said, and help to fund national awareness and drug use prevention campaigns.

Legalisation could create thousands of new jobs too, the report added. Data from California and Colorado shows that around 55-114 jobs are created for every tonne of legal cannabis created. In France, this could equate to 27,500-57,000 roles.

In conclusion, the report said: “The creation of a cannabis industry represents a growing economic opportunity.”

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