Consumption of any product listed in the first annex to the list of controlled drugs can be sanctioned with a one year prison sentence and a 3.750 € fine.
However, since june 2013, the pharmaceutical industry has obtained the possibility of requesting approval for the commercialisation of medicines containing the cannabis flower or its derivates, specially the synthetic ones.
At the date of 2017, the only pharmaceutical preparation that has been proposed for comercialisation is Sativex® (Nabiximols). Although it has fulfilled all the selective criteria for theoretical commercialization, it hasn’t still obtained the final approval for social security reimbursment, which still blocks its access in chemistries.
Cannabis Social Clubs
There is no Cannabis Social Club in France. In 2012-2013, there has been an attempt to create small-scale Cannabis growers and smokers clubs, and obtain an official recognition just as any other association. They have all been denied. Several failed efforts were made to create a Federation of Clubs.
Between 2015 and 2016, the NGO NORML France (former Chanvre & Libertés) conduced series of workshops with experts, users and officials, to design a new legal and operational kit for the creation of CSCs in France. The outcome of this cycle of reflexion was still unreleased at the end of summer 2017.
Safe Drug Consumption Rooms
For years, the municipality of Paris together with organisations of drug users and harm reduction services, have been working on the establishment of an experimental user room in northern Paris. The opening of the room has been several times postponed and loudly questioned by the neighbourhood, but is running since October 2016, and a second one has opened in Strasbourg in November of the same year. That has been made possible by a change of the prohibition law (in the reform of Health system undertaken under François Hollande’s mandate) allowing such experimentation for 6 years.
Main political parties with representation in the Parliament.
PCF (French Communist Party) — in the EP members of GUE/NGL
FI (Unsubjugated France) — in the EP members of GUE/NGL
EELV (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) — historical greens party — in the EP members of Greens/ALE
PS (Social-democrat Party) — former 2nd political force, nowadays minor — in the EP members of S&D
LREM (La République En Marche) — party of Emmanuel Macron, created 2016, currently not represented in the EP
MoDem (Mouvement des Démocrates) — historical centrists — in the EP members of ALDE
UDI (Union des Démocrates indépendants) — Right-wing Centrists — in the EP members of EPP
LR (les Républicains) — historical right-wing party — in the EP members of EPP
FN (Front National) — ultra-right party — in the EP members of ENL
What is the position of these parties on:
Drug Policy Reform
Even if a lot of personalities from any tendencies personally tend to express themselves more about the failed “war on drugs”, there is no political party in France which has adopted an official position that is favorable to any flexibilisation of drug policies. Only the EELV party (Ecologists) has been including the legalisation of cannabis in its programme for decades, without making a lot of fuss around the issue. Although the issue popped-up int he 2017 presidential campaign, there seem to be no plan for a broader reform of drug policies, and no elected political force seem to be ready to struggle for that cause.
Harm Reduction, health-based approach on drugs
The policy of « harm reduction » was accepted a minima in the 2000’s. Since then, nothing more has been developed, until the 2016 law of modernisation of health systems that allowed the opening of drug-consumption rooms, and strengthened the security for harm reduction workers, as well as their mission and their margins of action. Political parties try to avoid talking about this topic.
Decriminalisation of cannabis and/or other drugs
The very idea of an eventual change concerning Cannabis policies has simply a taboo for decades, until the 2017 presidential elections, where that topic could be debated in the campaign as a regular theme. The newly elected Emmanuel Macron talked timidly about a possible decriminalization of drug use, and the previous government of François Hollande had been preparing in background several plans to make evolve the way penalties for drug consumption are enforced.
Cannabis Social Clubs
Political parties are rather ignorant about this subject, so they have no chance to be aware of new concepts such as the CSCs.
What are the two most important threats on the political and legal front?
Even though drug consumers are less and less imprisoned, they are still politically and socially heavily stigmatised. People who use drugs in France have important risks to be set aside and isolated from society and services because of their consumption of illicit plants or substances. Social and professional exclusion are an important threat. Legally speaking, they are always under risk of having to face justice. Besides, the generalisation of traffic controls on the base of suspicion has led to an important increase of driving license suspension, which can also lead to job loss, geographical isolation, family problems (especially for isolated mono-parental families, for instance). Apart from the Financial consequences (fines, lawyers, seizures etc.).
The project of the new government of Macron (elected in May 2017) is to turn drug possession or consumption into an administrative fine (which would not though make totally disappear the possibility of penal sanctions). These fines, expected to be over €500, would have an exagerated over-impacting on the most vulnerable populations,
What is the most promising or positive development concerning drug policy?
The modest arrival of therapeutical cannabis, but mostly the positive evolutions happening abroad (Spain, USA, Uruguay, Portugal, Czech republic, Germany, Colombia, etc..) has helped to reconsider the question of the place of drug use in our modern society. There is hope that the new generation of politicians brought by Emmanuel Macron’s election will be less liable to stick to the prohibitionist taboo than their predecessors, and at least release pressure over drug consumption.
Redacted by Farid Ghehioueche & Kenzi Riboulet Zemouli
FAAAT think & do tank — info [at] faaat.net
Encod contact in France:
Florent Buffière, NORML France – info [at] norml.fr