By Roland Sebestyén
A new survey shows that the majority of the French public is now in favour of a cannabis policy change that would decriminalise the recreational use and possession of cannabis.
Le Parisien reported that according to a survey published by the Institut Français d’Opinion Publique (IFOP), more than half of French citizens would decriminalise cannabis consumption in the near future.
IFOP found that 51% would be in favour of the change – which is, compared to 2017 when 43% said the same – a massive result for all those cannabis advocates and campaigners who have been working for the cause over the last four-five decades.
Not everyone agrees, of course. Toxicology professor Jean-Claude Alvarez said: “We make people believe that cannabis is a nice product, almost ecological, whereas it is a dangerous drug which doubles the risk of an accident if you drive, causes heart problems and promotes schizophrenia.”
However, the poll also found that the public is dissatisfied with the country’s drug strategy, labelling it “ineffective.”
In addition, even more (67%) think that creating a regulated, state-run legal cannabis market would be a good idea going forward.
According to responses, many believe that a controlled market could be the solution against drug traffickers.
The results of the survey come after the French government’s pledge to run a pilot to supply patients with free medicinal cannabis and a public survey to gauge the public’s opinion on cannabis last year – the results were telling: 85% of all those surveyed believe that individuals should be permitted to grow a proscribed limit of cannabis for personal use.
Back then, Jean-Baptiste Moreau, MP for Creuse and the head of a parliamentary commission on the use of recreational cannabis, said he thought legalising adult use of the drug could be a possibility in France.
Mr Moreau said on Franceinfo: “We really must have a debate to enlighten citizens on this issue.
“Today we have a ban, but we have record levels of consumption. So, the situation is untenable.
“Prohibition is not working. It just creates a parallel market. We have a significant parallel economy, which finances other networks, such as arms trafficking and others.”
A few weeks ago another cannabis advocate French MP, François-Michel Lambert, the Deputy of LEF made the headlines when he held a cannabis joint aloft in the French Assembly.
He said: “Legalisation, controlled by the State, would make it possible, in addition to guaranteeing the consumer of controlled products, to dry up trafficking and would create tax revenue and jobs.
“It would be accompanied by real prevention policies aimed at young people to reduce consumption and risks.
“I could be worried about promoting the legalisation of cannabis. Just pulling out a joint could also create scandal.”