A new parliamentary report from the government of France recommends a set fine of €150-€200 for marijuana possession, which would effectively decriminalize cannabis in the nation.
Despite the fact that France has some of the most stringent laws related to cannabis possession, the country has one of the highest rates of marijuana use in Europe. The most recent numbers show that 17 million French citizens have tried cannabis and 1.4 million use it regularly — including 700,000 who enjoy the plant on a daily basis.
Currently, marijuana users face up to one year in prison and a fine of €3750, but a government document scheduled to be released on Wednesday concluded that the current laws and punishments are clearly not dissuading use.
The report shows that in 2015 there were approximately 64,000 drug-related convictions in France, 40,000 of which were for possession. Out of the 40,000, only 3,098 concluded in a prison sentence. Despite the low number of convictions, French police have been mired in a bureaucratic quicksand filled with cannabis possession charges due to all the paperwork involved in getting a conviction. The report states that by implementing fines instead of criminal prosecution, it would free up the police to concentrate on black market dealers and illegal cultivators instead.
“The fixed fine of €150-€200 that I propose would enable police officers in the field to stop the legal procedure there and then with the person who has been caught,” said MP Robin Reda, who was one of the authors of the proposed legislation. “The advantage of this is that the punishment is immediate and systematic.”
Last year, cannabis was a hot topic during the country’s general election, with 4 out of 5 major candidates in favor of some type of cannabis reform. The winner, President Emmanuel Macron, has stated he supports decriminalization. The country’s Interior Minister announced in May that decriminalization might happen by Sept. 2017. Although that announcement has not yet become a reality, this new government document could push the movement forward.
This article was originally published on Marijuana.com.
About Jon Hiltz: Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.