Government experts are urging France to legalize cannabis. A report by the Council of Economic Analysis (CEA) recommends creating a monopoly of cannabis production and distribution, claiming prohibition has been “a failure”. The economists say the move would help control trafficking and restrict access, and could bring up to €2.8 billion tax revenue each year and create 57,000 jobs. Statistics from 2016 shows that 41.4% of French people aged between 15 and 64 had tried cannabis – more than double the European average.
CEA is an independent organization and their primary role is just to advise the country’s President and Prime Minister on different economic matters. The lead analysts of the report, economists Emmanuelle Auriol and Pierre-Yves Geoffard, are trying to convince the leading politicians in France, that full legalization will not only be fiscally beneficial, but it will allow the state to gain control of the cannabis market, currently run by criminals. After the proposal became public, it has been backed by many doctors, economists and politicians.
France is known to have quite strict laws about the possession and use of cannabis. The current government overall seems open to changes in legislation. In November 2018 the punishment for possession was lightened to just a €200 fine, replacing a law from the 1970s, which foresaw 1-year imprisonment and greater fines for illegal drug possession and use. Despite all that, France ranks at the top in Europe for illegal drug use (including cannabis), especially among teenagers.
CEA’s proposal sparked further discussion in France about the benefits of medical and recreational marijuana. Public response came last week from Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne, who confirmed that the French state is still against legalizing cannabis for recreational use. Regarding medical cannabis, the government is currently conducting official study about its benefits and the study should be completed before the end of 2019.
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