French Senators Express Approval of Cannabis Legalization

Stephen Andrews
18 Aug 2022

A group of Senators in France recently published an op-ed in Le Monde calling for the legalization of cannabis nationwide. The letter explores several routes to how the French government can legally regulate cannabis. Decriminalization is not one of the options, the Senators agree, saying this option is "cynical" and "populist" and that it will only maintain prohibition while eliminating penalties.

In the letter published in Le Monde, the Senators look forward to launching a consultation process that will eventually culminate in proposing a new law to legalize cannabis for recreational use. A total of 31 French senators signed the letter, including representatives from the Socialist, Ecologist, and Republican groups. 

Prior to calling for legalization, the op-ed briefly addresses decriminalization. The Senators argue that "decriminalization merely buys social peace with a certain cynicism," and they go on to categorically reject "this demagogue and populist option."

The letter cites statistics from a recent report issued by the National Assembly, which claims that almost 18 million (out of 67 million) French citizens have used marijuana at some point. Although it's banned, 1.5 million consume it for recreation regularly. 

The Senators describe the situation to be "untenable" and say, "The French are ready to debate the consumption of so-called recreational cannabis," the op-ed reads. 

In addition, the letter says that prohibition has proven to be "ineffective, inefficient and unjust." Bottom line, the proposal appears to suggest regulating cannabis products to reduce the size and outreach of the black market and to help protect youths and minors from consumption. 

The letter pins down the direction of the legal measure on cannabis. Any policy potentially introduced would be crafted similarly to existing policies on tobacco, alcohol, or gambling. Such a measure would "provide the means to act more effectively to better protect citizens and especially young people."

Furthermore, the senators point out that with legalization in place, France will benefit from tax revenue and economic boost, and at the same time, it will improve its justice and law enforcement system. 

In Europe, cannabis reform has built momentum in the last couple of years. But the legalization movement in France is in dire need of speeding up. Especially now that neighboring countries such as Luxembourg and Germany have made significant steps toward reform. 

French lawmakers no longer have the luxury of sitting and ignoring the debate on cannabis. Otherwise, the country will lose in all fields, including countless economic opportunities. 

As the Senators sum up in the op-ed, people will continue to consume cannabis in France regardless of what laws remain active. The only valid question that needs answering right now is whether the French will retain this habit in an unregulated arena or whether they will build a legal, regulated market. Whether they will go to buy weed from Germany once it fully legalizes cannabis or whether they will pursue cannabis goods at home. 

Stephen Andrews