The impending presidential election in France is highly likely to bring forth positive changes for those who use cannabis. Noted as the most popular and currently illegal drug there, the harsh penalties that come along with it really aren’t fitting. Five candidates lead the way in the upcoming election. With four of them supporting voter favored changes, odds are that France’s next president is likely to relax cannabis laws.
What Is The Current Law?
At the present time, cannabis remains illegal in France. The law banning illegal drugs, passed in 1970 with the intent to combat drug addiction, seems a dated notion. Considering nearly half of the 17 year-olds surveyed by the French Observatory for Drugs and Addiction claim they’ve used it, cannabis is clearly not only popular but easily accessible. With so many youth admitting to using it, there’s no question that the number of adults who partake is even greater.
As it stands, penalties for using cannabis include a possible prison sentence of up to one year in prison and a hefty fine.
What Changes Are Being Proposed?
The opinions between the candidates differ somewhat on what the next steps should be as far as cannabis goes. One candidate, Marine La Pen, stands alone in supporting the current law. Grouping cannabis together with all other illegal drugs, her stance is that it’s dangerous and should remain illegal and supports the penalties that are in place. Suggesting that legalization and relaxed penalties are crazy, she’d like to see the current law more firmly applied. In comparison with the others running for president, this puts her in the minority.
Those in favor of relaxing the law and penalties are Emmanuel Macron and Francois Fillon. While they both represent different political parties, they’re position on the issue is implementing punishments that better fit the crime. As opposed to prison sentences, they suggest warnings be issued to offenders and in certain cases fines. Surprisingly, the one sector of the community who supports this change is the police force. For them, it will be a relief from the amount of time in court and paperwork involved in crimes regarding cannabis. At present, it’s already very common for them to overlook these offenses.
The other two candidates running for office are Jean-Luc Melenchon and Benoit Hammon. With a more liberal view than the others, they would like to see cannabis legalization.
Why Are Changes Favorable?
Changes in the law regarding cannabis have long been sought out by smaller parties. Now, it has made its way onto the agenda of those in the larger parties and is closer to becoming reality. Reasons suggested for legalization include taxing cannabis sales and being able to better control it.
For Phillip Capon of the French police union, the penalties under the current law are too harsh. In addition to this, he believes it will be in the best interest of the police force. The idea of saved time and police being able to focus on more serious issues would be a beneficial and welcome change.
As opposed to criminal punishment, Capon would like to see other steps taken to combat drug use, such as preventative methods. Tying up the police force and justice system to penalize people for something so many other are doing is only a wast of time and resources.
For the candidates who support a lessening of penalties or full on legalization, its highly probable that they’ve been influenced by the continuous changes taking place across the United States. From legalization of cannabis for medicinal use to legal recreational use, several states are making tremendous strides. It’s also recently been suggested that Canada’s headed towards legalizing its possession. This is a notable trend that the people of France (who would like to see changes in their drug laws) will want to be a part of.
Knowing this is a popular issue with the people of France it makes sense that, in light of progressive cannabis movements throughout the United States, 4 of the top-running candidates support changes to the law.
What Happens Next?
The fate of laws relating to cannabis in France hinge on the results of the nearing election. If a candidate’s elected that has progressive aspirations for changing the laws, the French would reclaim the once acceptable notion of cannabis use.