Just two days after a new law went into action that allows cannabis users to pay an on-location fine if caught in possession rather than facing a court appearance, officials from French customs seized seven tons of marijuana.
Located in the back of three vans parked in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, the seized cannabis has an estimated street value of €20 million euros (based on the price of 2,500-3,000 euros per kilo). The find came after a weeks-long investigation that led officials to a prior seizure of 320 kilos of cannabis in September and 200 kilos in early October.
Cannabis has become France’s most popular drug, with an estimated 4.6 million occasional users and 700,000 daily users, according to the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Last year alone featured an 84 percent increase in the amount of cannabis seized over the previous year.
Before the newly activated law, possession was previously punishable with up to a year in jail and a nearly 4,000 euro fine, but the sentences were seldom enforced and usually ended with lighter punishments such as community service.
President Francois Hollande personally went to the Paris suburbs customs investigations unit headquarters to commend those associated with the bust.
photo credit: telegraph
A multitude of people protested in Paris on May 10, 2015 in support of a global demonstration for the legalization of marijuana. Many of them were wearing cannabis print T-shirts, hats, and other clothing items. The protesters peacefully marched their way from the Paris to the Bastille, chanting,
“What do we want? Legalization!”
While carrying banners, protesters proclaimed,
“Another drug policy is possible! Ganga for all!”
Marijuana was made illegal in France in 1970. The extreme penalties for use include a sentence of up to one year in prison, and a fine of up to €3,750 (RM15, 103). Although most offenders rarely see prison time, fines are levied on a regular basis.
The Global Marijuana March had a dual purpose for some protesters. For Beatrice, a 52-year-old terminally ill woman who has been unable to walk for 20 years, its purpose was to bring more attention to the benefits of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Beatrice, stated,
“Since I started smoking marijuana, I have felt better. I am walking again, it helps my therapy and it helps me to eat.”
Other protesters just wanted to show their support and consume cannabis in a peaceful setting where they were surrounded by like-minded peers. Julien, a 16 year old Parisian stated,
“Legalization would mean less trafficking, better products and perhaps less crime.”
One of the biggest challenges that the legalization of cannabis faces is morality. Senator Ester Benbassa said,
“There is still the idea that the cannabis smoker is on the wrong track. He smokes every day, it’s an addiction.”
She wants transparent legislation on what she considers to be a “public health problem.” Benbassa recently opposed a bill to facilitate the state regulated sale and use of cannabis.
While the fight to legalize marijuana continues to pick up steam and support, one message that supporters want to make clear is that the use of cannabis has benefits for everyone, especially those who are ill.
One major message being shared by rally participants is that the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis don’t have to be gained by smoking the dried plant matter. Food products can be infused with it, which is often as easier method of delivery for patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions.
photo credit: rt.com