France is no Amsterdam when it comes to marijuana laws, in fact it has some of the toughest possession statutes in Europe, but a first of its kind bill proposed this week could change that. The lawmaker behind the legislation tells The Local why marijuana should be legalized in France.
People smoking a joint in France face a maximum penalty of a year behind bars and a €3,750 fine for the first offence, yet 13.4 million French people admit to sparking up at least once in their life. Even France’s top cop, Interior Minister Manuel Vallls, said in a recent interview, he’d tried it “maybe once.”
The numbers go up as you look at the younger portion of the population. France had the unhappy distinction of being the European “champion” of teen pot smokers in 2011 when 24 percent of its 16-year-old kids admitted to smoking at least once a month, daily Le Monde reported.
Not surprisingly legalizing cannabis has come up regularly in France, but the discussion never has never gotten far. In fact, it was only this month that authorities announced medical cannabis spray Sativex had been authorized for sale in France, though only by prescription and solely to multiple schlerosis patients.
It stands in marked contrast to France’s more liberal neighbour to the north, The Netherlands, which decriminalized personal use of pot nearly 40 years ago. American states Colorado and Washington went a step further when their voters fully legalized personal possession and use of marijuana in 2013.
Is it France’s turn next? French Senator Esther Benbassa, a green party member who represents an area on the south east border of Paris, believes it’s time to change. She also claims the legalization law she proposed on Tuesday is the first of its kind in France.
Her law would allow government-run retail stores to sell marijuana to adults for recreational use, though the full details won’t be available until the law is unveiled to the press on February 6th. Benbassa told The Local why she is pushing for legalization.
By Joshua Melvin
Read the full story at thelocal.fr