By Emily Ledger
The Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex, has announced the planned introduction of on-the-spot fines for users of cannabis and other drugs in the country. The announcement comes after trials of the measure in various French cities.
The fines, which will be introduced from September, will be particularly focused on cannabis users nationwide. Trials for the new fines have been ongoing in Marseilles, Lille, Créteil, Boissy-Saint-Léger, and Rennes. Following these trials, prime minister Castex has revealed the extension of the scheme in an attempt to put an end to growing drug-related violence.
On a recent trip to Nice, Castex revealed that the €200 fines will inflict “punishment without delay” and help to “put an end to the violence of everyday life”. Nice has experienced increasing drug-related violence in recent weeks, including gunshots being fired outside a supermarket last week.
The fines will be reduced to €150 if paid within 15 days of the issue. However, if the fine is not paid within a specified time, the amount payable will be raised to €450.
Current laws around drug use and possession in France date back to the 1970s and permit a prison sentence of up to 1 year and/or a €3,750 fine for use of illicit drugs. These laws do not distinguish between specific drug types. However, many prosecutors steer away from prison sentences for drug use, instead opting for more lenient punishments or warnings.
The new fines are being introduced as part of the PM’s plans to improve security in the country. Additional measures include an extension to police powers in the city of Nice, which are to be detailed at a later date. The deployment of 60 more police offers is also expected as well as the roll-out of up to 150 jobs which will target “local criminal action and everyday delinquency”.
France is believed to have the highest number of cannabis users in Europe, and the third-highest number of cocaine users. PM Castex hopes that the new measures will also help to deter drug dealers as it will target them at their points of sale.