its legalization in Europe is “far from successful”, says the French government – EURACTIV.fr

The decriminalization of cannabis in some European countries does not convince France. During the hearings in the Senate on Wednesday, the representative of the ministers, Valéry Saintoyant, reiterated the government’s strong opposition position.

According to Interior Ministry figures, France has around 900,000 daily cannabis users.

“This is the main concern of the government”Valery Saytoyant, representative of the inter-ministerial mission to combat drugs and addictive behavior (Mildeca), said during a hearing held at the Senate Social Affairs Committee on Wednesday (January 18).

On March 17, 2022, Emmanuel Macron, then a candidate for re-election, said during the press presentation of his program: “I’m not in favor of legalizing marijuana.”

Almost a year later, the position of Emmanuel Macron’s government has not changed.

Asked by Socialist senators about the government’s position on cannabis legalization, Ms Saintoyant reaffirmed that “ inconvenient”.

Last August, a group of 31 senators from the Socialist, Environmentalist and Republican groups issued a call in a newspaper column. The world It paves the way for the legalization of cannabis in France.

“Legalization would first of all allow to control the sanitary quality of consumed products. It would also serve to greatly limit traffic for the benefit of these disaster zones.we can read in the forum.

“Furthermore, large-scale prevention plans could be developed, financed by the taxation of products and the redeployment of means of repression,” write the signatories.

But this was not enough to convince the government.

“In the light of foreign experience, we believe that there is no success,” Ms. Saintoyant explained, specifically referring to European countries that have legalized or decriminalized the recreational use of cannabis.

Malta, Portugal or the Netherlands

In Europe, only Malta fully legalized the recreational use of cannabis under a law passed in December 2021 that allows not only its consumption but also its cultivation.

Malta may soon be joined by Germany. Last October, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach unveiled a tentative roadmap to legalize cannabis use by 2024.

“By decriminalizing cannabis, we want to provide better protection for children and young people, while also ensuring better health protection”he said.

Malta remains an exception, on the other hand, several European countries have decriminalized cannabis consumption. This is particularly the case in Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, where consumers are not subject to fines or imprisonment.

However, these examples are not definitive for France. In the words of Ms. Saintoyant, the legalization of cannabis “ product trivialization, without “reduction in drug trafficking”and without preventing dealers from continuing to sell other illegal products.

France’s strategy to combat cannabis consumption and, more broadly, other illicit drugs, is quite different. In 2023, the government mass mobilization” of police officers, customs officers and gendarmes, in continuity of 2022.

The goal is twofold: to fight against both organized crime » and against “daily traffic”Ms. Saintoyant explains to the senators that the purpose “ dismantling of bargaining points”.

Repression is not the solution

However, according to INSERM sociologist and researcher Marie Jauffret Roustide, repression is not the solution. ” “Repression makes traffic more dynamic, it’s a balloon effect, studies show.”he said in an interview with EURACTIV France.

Especially since ” “France has one of the most repressive laws and is the second European country in terms of cannabis consumption among young people and adults.” he notes.

According to a report published by the European Observatory on Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) in September 2021, 44.8% of French people between the ages of 15 and 64, or 18 million, have used cannabis at least once in their lives.

For example, this figure is 37.5% for Spain and 38.4% for Denmark. In the Netherlands, where cannabis is sold over the counter, this figure is 27.7%.

According to the sociologist, the decriminalization of cannabis consumption, as in Portugal, would make it possible to have an approach based on public health and the social integration of consumers.

As for legalization, it would be a way to combat human trafficking and violence by reducing the share of the illegal market, continues Ms. Jauffret Roustide.

“Government should rely less on morality, say that taking drugs is wrong, and rely more on scientific data.”he concludes.

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