February 11th 2014
French Senator Esther Benbassa, a green party member who represents an area close to Paris, has submitted a proposal to legalize cannabis in France. Her law would allow government-run retail stores to sell marijuana to adults for recreational use. This is believed to be the first such proposal in France and comes at a time when a huge amount of political momentum is gathering to remove the cannabis trade from the control of criminal gangs.
In the last few weeks France legalized cannabis for medical use, so there is a reasonable amount of political good-will to the idea of overhauling France's old anti-cannabis laws. And French cannabis laws do need modernising, they currently allow first time cannabis offenders to be sent to jail for a year. This is despite the fact that over 13 million French citizens are likely to enjoy cannabis for medical and/or recreational during 2014. Even France's top cop, Interior Minister Manuel Vallls, said in a recent interview, he’d tried it “maybe once.”
France has seen its northern neighbour, Holland, work successfully with a regulated cannabis market for decades. In contrast, French politicians have avoided debating its cannabis laws and have been left with laws which no longer reflect reality. However, times are changing. The USA is continuing with its own legalization program, as are numerous other nations. French politicians are also keen to see if there is an effective alternative to prohibition which would work in France. The proposal from Senator Benbassa will be a good chance for France to consider the benefits of legalization.
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