By Roland Sebestyén
French MPs have backed an initiative that urged the government to launch a public questionnaire, designed to gauge the country’s stance on recreational cannabis use.
The Connexion reports that the French government is planning to set up an online survey to “better understand the public opinion” on recreational cannabis use. The petition, which would contain five or six questions, is expected to go live over the next few weeks on the parliament’s website.
Robin Reda, the MP behind the project, told AFP that the petition would only be available for a month and the results would be published in March or April. Also, as the paper says, the group behind the initiative will conclude its findings as to medical cannabis use in the country.
The move comes after France was found to be in violation of EU laws through its ban on some imported CBD products.
Meanwhile, a medical cannabis pilot programme which aims to provide around 3,000 French patients with medical preparations of the plant is set to kick off in March. The scheme was originally earmarked for last year but has been pushed back due to restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Essentially, while recreational cannabis use has been illegal in the whole of France since the 1970s, medical use is permitted for a limited selection of conditions. However, as it is the case globally, legal restrictions have done little to curb the recreational use of cannabis in the country.
According to some reports, recreational use has skyrocketed since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that more than five million people use cannabis at least once a month in France. It is believed that France now has the highest rates of cannabis use in Europe, alongside Spain.
The Connexion cites an expert saying among other reasons is the establishment of a rather efficient home delivery system. In the early 2010s, he says, mostly people from the big cities, such as Paris, enjoyed these services. Now, it is everywhere: customers can be found in towns as well as in small rural settlements.
While it is unlikely that the results from this government survey will lead to direct changes to drug policy, it is hoped that the findings will be used to inform future debates on cannabis reform in France.