France to ask public opinion on recreational cannabis

An online questionnaire is being launched to gauge public opinion on recreational marijuana use, before parliamentary debates on the issue

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The French parliament will launch an online questionnaire today to better understand public opinion towards recreational cannabis use.

The questionnaire, which will have five or six questions, will be available on the Assemblée nationale website for around one month.

MP for Essonne and leader of the project, Robin Reda, told AFP that a report detailing the results would be available towards the end of March or beginning of April.

He said: “The goal is to inform debate as much as possible. The success of the survey will depend on the largest number of people possible participating.”

Government inquiries into medical marijuana

The parliamentary group behind the project will also give conclusions on its studies into the use of medical marijuana (including products such as cannabidiol and CBD) in mid-February.

France had previously tried to ban such products – but in November 2020 was found to be in violation of EU laws for doing so.

In 2019 the Assemblée nationale also authorised an experiment giving medical marijuana, in non-smokable forms, to at least 3,000 patients with serious illnesses. The trial was supposed to start in March 2020, but has been delayed by the health crisis.

Recreational use illegal – but continued through lockdown

Currently, the consumption, possession and sale of recreational marijuana is illegal in France. Despite this, studies from national drug watchdog l’OFDT estimate that over a quarter of all adults in France have tried the drug and 5 million people in France use cannabis at least once a month.

This has continued during the Covid-19 health crisis.

Sociologist and co-author of l’OFDT’s annual report Clément Gérome told news source FranceInfothat illegal drug sales had “readapted” to the pandemic, with home delivery of drugs becoming common not just in Paris but in smaller cities and semi-rural areas.

Mr Gérome said: “Confinement initially caused a reduction in drug sales and a rise in prices. Then, after a few weeks, the networks readapted and notably developed a system of home delivery. Everything then returned at significant volume.”

Home delivery networks expanding

The sociologist said home delivery of drugs has been known of since 2010 in France, with a significant rise in activity in the past two or three years. “At first it was mostly cocaine sales. Now it is more and more products: cannabis flower and resin, cocaine, but also MDMA and ecstasy," he said.

Whereas previously, sales were organised by large organisations with hundreds of customers in the Paris area and other major cities, he said: “Today, it involves small towns and semi-rural areas with independent delivery operations”.

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