France is widely known for the Parisian “joie de vivre” and its liberal society. Nonetheless, France’s cannabis laws are still among the toughest in all of Europe in 2021. But that could change soon. A public inquiry on the subject of cannabis is currently causing a stir among the French. Will cannabis be legal in France in 2022?
France knows no forgiveness when it comes to cannabis!
For many years, French leaders have agreed on at least one thing: opposition to cannabis. They have taken tough action not only against dealers, but also against ordinary consumers. In the event of control by the gendarmerie, a simple seal can lead to heavy penalties. French law completely prohibits the consumption or possession of cannabis and does not distinguish between personal use and professional trade in the herb. If accused of personal use, offenders in France face a fine of up to 3,750 euros and a prison sentence of up to one year. If the personal use of cannabis poses a danger to others, for example in traffic or at work, the situation becomes even more serious. The threat of a prison sentence of up to five years and heavy fines of up to 75,000 euros exists.
Paradox: a third of cannabis in the EU is cultivated in France.
Politically, the battle against cannabis is being waged with full force. Yet, paradoxically, the French are the European leaders in the lucrative cultivation of hemp. According to the French industry association (InterChavre), hemp was cultivated on approximately 17,900 hectares in 2019. And this, in France alone. In the EU as a whole, it was only 58,200 hectares. Thus, marketing is currently limited to fibers and seeds marketed. Thus, the content of cannabis in France and of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol cannot be less than 0.2%. Some products even need to be completely THC and CBD free. Thus, the versatile plant that is cannabis is being used to satisfy the economic interests of some lobbyists, but the immense potential of the green all-purpose plant is shut down with iron hardness, especially within the French government.
Cannabis laws in France – unchanged since 1970
In the summer of 2018, former French Minister of Health Agnés Buzyn announced a major legislative review on cannabis. Notably to rationalize the country’s criminal justice system, which can be said to be in difficulty. With more than 100,000 arrests per year just for cannabis-related offenses and 54 tons of herb seized, cell blocks in France, but also its evidence rooms, threaten to overflow. Euphoria bubbled around the long-awaited end of this irrational consumer pursuit. Even the French police union has advocated a contemporary review of the long outdated cannabis laws. But in the end, nothing happened. Although the controversial cannabis issue was ideal for beating the drums of the electoral campaign in the political arena, the dusty French legal text of 1970 continues to apply to all issues relating to cannabis to this day.
The French cannabis revolution in 2022?
But now that should be over: So it’s high time to rethink this core restrictive stigma. At least that’s what the majority of the French Parliament is currently saying. Recently, they have been surprisingly open to the benefits of a legal approach to cannabis. Thus, the survey on the subject of cannabis, commissioned by the government to the entire French population, has already started on January 13, 2021. Essentially, this online questionnaire deals with all aspects of consumption and opinion about cannabis. However, the almost torrential response exceeded the wildest expectations. The demand was sometimes so great that the cannabis investigation had to be extended until the end of February.
After an intensive assessment phase of civil claims, the committee’s in-depth discussion of the next step in the cannabis process will follow in April. According to current information, the limits for THC and CBD will be raised. In addition, all components of the cannabis plant up to the flowering stage must be released for commercial and industrial purposes. In addition, for the first half of 2021, a two-year test phase for the free distribution of medical cannabis to patients is already planned. The first stones on the road to the legalization of cannabis in France already seem to be rolling. However, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to a true green revolution in 2022, or whether it will be another case of window dressing.