Health: The latest French parliamentary report on cannabis recommends its legalization

Health: The latest French parliamentary report on cannabis recommends its legalization

France has twice as many young "cannabis joint" smokers under the age of 18 as the European average. At least 1.4 million people smoke cannabis daily and 5 million smoke it annually. These few figures on French use of this psychotropic plant come from a "transpartisan" Report, the third and final part of the information mission dedicated to "Regulation and impact of the various uses of cannabis" presented to Parliamentarians on Wednesday, May 5 February 2021 France is a frontrunner in the consumption of this substance, particularly in young people, while smoking cannabis is illegal and increasingly repressed by law: smokers can now be fined 200 euros.

Cannabis in Europe: the French at the top of the table

Cannabis use in France accounts for 80% of all drug use. Almost 10% of the population between 14 and 64 years old use cannabis at least once a year, almost 3% daily. 16-year-old French are the first cannabis users in Europe. 18 million French have experimented with cannabis in their lifetime. In France in 2017, almost half of adults aged between 18 and 64 said they had used it. That is almost four times more in 30 years.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction estimates that 75 million Europeans aged between 15 and 64 have used cannabis at least once, ie 20% of this population.6.8% of the population aged 15 to 64 used it over the course of the year year. Young adults between 14 and 34 years are the heaviest users: 12.4% have used cannabis in the last 12 months and 6.9% in the last 30 days in Europe.

Nevertheless, France is increasingly going it alone with its totally repressive strategy. Elsewhere, in Europe or North America, approaches have fundamentally changed, with more frequent legalization or decriminalization, often monitored by the state. The positive results of this policy - in terms of reduced consumption, reduction of illicit trade and health benefits - are noted by the authorities.Conversely, France suffers year after year the harmful effects of the massive consumption of cannabis, often of dubious or dangerous quality - also due to its THC content (tetrahydrocannabinol , a molecule found in the cannabis plant with psychoactive properties). by criminal networks. Young people are particularly affected. This is the finding of the last French parliamentary report. In Portugal, for example, drug use has been decriminalized since 2001 and controlled by the state. The rate of daily smokers in this country is three times lower than in France. Fifteen US states as well as Canada and Uruguay have approved the use of "recreational cannabis".

To read on our site (June 2019): Cannabis: repression or legalization?

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The draft law "relating to the controlled legalization of the production, sale and consumption of cannabis" by deputy member of the group "Liberties and Territories" François-Michel Lambert caused a scandal in the government last month. This was on Tuesday, The case again on May 4th, when he waved a "cannabis joint" in the middle of the National Assembly. The MP had previously denounced "the total failure of repression and prohibition in France", while, according to him, "other countries have decided to face the problem instead of the ostrich policy". This observation of the failure of the policy to combat cannabis use in France is again the focus of the last part of this parliamentary inquiry, led by the majority rapporteur LAREM - responsible for the topic "recreational cannabis" - Caroline Janvier. The latter underlined in the preamble that “the repre ssive policies in France since 1970 have been costly and excessively mobilize the police without doing even a small bit to reduce consumption and trafficking in cannabis”.

Decriminalization and Legalization: What are the Differences Decriminalization is the abolition of previous criminal sanctions for certain acts. Legalization, on the other hand, consists in making an act legal, but within a framework established by the state. The difference between the two terms is important: legalize means to place a restrictive legal framework on an act or product, while decriminalize simply means that the state refrains from criminalizing an act or use of a product, allowing the prohibition of an act or product under certain, established conditions.Example: The Legalization of abortion does not allow women to have an abortion at any time during pregnancy. However, the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1982 made it possible for homosexual persons to no longer freely restrict or monitor their sex To declare all orientation outlaws. Decriminalization lifts a legal prohibition, legalization is enshrined in law.

This report by the deputies of the parliamentary information mission on cannabis was drawn up thanks to the consultation - over three months - of around a hundred specialists: doctors, police officers, judges and researchers.Caroline Janvier now considers it necessary to legalize this narcotic in a controlled manner in order to "control to protect the health of consumers, especially young people, and to ensure the safety of the French". And it is this health aspect of the problem that French government officials seem unwilling to address.

Political refusal to change approach

Nathalie Latour, general delegate of the Federation of Addiction - body scrutinized by the parliamentary committee - underlines this refusal of the political authorities to tackle the issue in all its dimensions: "It is a problem that has been treated in France in an extremely binary way, because 50 years. Years. In our Country if you use drugs you are either on the side of crime or on the side of the sick While in 50 years society has changed tremendously For many people who use drugs, substances like cannabis , this happens in very different ways Wise, in the uses, in the motivations, in the type of experimentation - which can be problematic for some, that's true - but without the political you wouldn't want to work in these spaces there "The political leaders in the government don't seem ready despite everything to agree on the failure of this purely security and judicial approach - that of the specialist en of the problem is denounced so much."s of addictions only by the parliamentary report.

When we have a very strong discourse about cannabis, just saying "it's forbidden" and refusing to talk about it any other way, that prevents any form of prevention.

Gesundheit: Der neueste französische Parlamentsbericht über Cannabis empfiehlt seine Legalisierung

Nathalie Latour, General Delegate of the Addiction Foundation

By way of illustration, Gerald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, who was interviewed a few weeks ago on the cannabis issue, then gave the following answer: "Since January, the police have carried out more than 1,300 operations to dismantle the points of the contract, with important and regular confiscations of the key. In addition, since September 1 , the date of their generalization, imposed more than 70,000 fines on consumers. These statements suggest that repressive policies should make it possible to contain the phenomenon, but the reality is very different, according to the report, which underlines that state repression of the cannabis use has never made it possible to stop the trade, quite the opposite, with particularly worrying damage to the health of young people.

Prevention and education are lacking

The problem of drug use in modern societies has never been solved, and probably never will be completely, but as Nathalie Latour points out, “the whole policy approach to this problem has remained largely based on reinforcements of police and judicial education, how to talk about it differently, by to appeal to young people These areas have gotten a bit more energy in recent years, but there's a sort of omerta to this issue that's preventing it from reaching the public properly, which isn't apparent among young people in particular.” Cannabis use, especially for young audience, is a real health problem as it disrupts concentration and learning, prevents proper brain development and can trigger disorders.mental disorders that all health professionals emphasize.The recent cannabis report also explains that cannabis use among young people increases the risk of schizophrenia doubled, anxiety and depressive disorders n and increases the risk of heart attack.

Changing the legislation would oblige public authorities to introduce some form of cannabis education, a sort of Evin law on cannabis (...)

Caroline Janvier, LREM Recreational Cannabis Reporter

Nathalie Latour therefore explains that the goal is not above all to trivialize the subject, but above all to get out of an unequivocal discourse: “If we have a very marked discourse on cannabis, just saying “it is forbidden” and yourself refuse to talk In addition, it prevents any form of prevention. As health professionals, we are not here to trivialize this use, but to talk about the motivation for this use. For youth, there are motivations of crossing into adulthood, of celebration, of relaxation. These motivations must be discussed." With regard to the educational aspect, the specialist emphasizes that it is crucial to contain and prevent the phenomenon: "Even if consumption among under 18-year-olds in France is still high, it has increased in recent years declined somewhat and we have the reasons for this decline that today's parents experimented with cannabis themselves in the 1990s. The way they position themselves towards their children is therefore based on their own experiences. In France we have everything on the focused on the criminal law aspect and did not work at all on the educational aspect, while it is central."

A legal framework... to support and prevent

The report, presented by Caroline Janvier, explains that the underground cannabis economy "contributes very strongly to the increase in violence in deprived neighborhoods and leads to some breakdown of social ties".For this reason, the elected LREM states that the legalization of cannabis overseen it would allow "drying out the black market and then allowing the development of preventive measures, especially for the youngest".Caroline Janvier believes that changing the legislation would oblige the authorities to "implement some form of education on the use of cannabis", a sort of "Evin Law on Cannabis", "to determine what advertising would or would not be permitted, the locations where the ban would remain in place, and underage access restrictions would be maintained. For example, in her report, she explains that "the issue of advertising of is of fundamental importance in order to develop an aesthetics v of cannabis that encourages its consumption." This series of reflections and proposals delights Nathalie Latour: the addiction group that has represented her for years calls for her to create a framework for the use of cannabis in order to allow addiction prevention and people in To better support difficulties with this substance. “If cannabis use were legalized and controlled, parents would be able to talk about it much more easily with their teenagers, as the fear of being judged, condemned or labeled as sick would be gone. On our side, we know our help needs to be provided as soon as possible, so we need to have the minimum number of horseflies for families to come and talk about. know, hide and find that it is very difficult to address the problem. For the most addicted people they mostly fall through the cracks and we find them around the age of 25-26 with very serious addiction problems.” Rapporteur Caroline Janvier also mentioned in her presentation the major online consultation that the Commission of Inquiry into cannabis is undertaking 250,000 people. 80% of them are in favor of authorizing the consumption and production of cannabis within a legally defined framework. For Caroline Janvier, it is therefore time to launch a major national debate on the model of the Citizens' Climate Convention with the possibility to open a referendum. The questions could be many: from what age should we allow consumption? Should we allow sales to tobacconists? Authorize online sales? Do we need a state monopoly? What price to set? Can we produce cannabis in France ?

The fact of proposing a regulated, structured and state-supervised offer also means that mafia networks are not allowed to decide on the quality of the products sold, the type of information and the specific marketing of these products to the population.

Nathalie Latour, General Delegate of the Addiction Foundation

The Delegate of the Addiction Federation, Nathalie Latour, advocates this approach of supervised legalization, which would make it possible to really address the problem. through local risk reduction programs, and we need to work on a protective regulatory framework to prevent the illicit cannabis market from engulfing consumers. A regulated, structured supply, monitored by the state also means that mafia networks do not have the quality of the products sold, the type of information and the targeted marketing of these products to the general public," explains the specialist.

A framed legalization has already been rejected

The observations and recommendations of health and risk prevention professionals are therefore very clear, like those put forward by the parliamentary mission, but it seems certain that the government and the Elysée will not hear them.President Emmanuel Macron explained in an interview with the daily Le Figaro on April 18: "We have decided to step up our measures against the exploding drug trade (...) If you are caught using it, you know that you will have to pay and that you will not escape it. It changes that By acting on all levels: high traffic, small shops, consumption, we are dealing a deep blow to human trafficking (... ) Contrary to those who advocate general decriminalization, I think drugs need a break and No publicity stunt Saying that hashish is innocent is more than "a lie" to the problem of cannabis use among young people in one sentence, during the presentation of François-Michel Lambert's draft law: "C is shit that young people swallow in their veins and that they smoke".President Emmanuel Macron is expected to launch a "big national debate on drug use and its harmful effects" and asserts that "those who use drugs - and this affects all social classes - must understand that they are not only putting their health at risk, but that they are also feeding the greatest traffic."The regulated So legalization of cannabis will obviously not be purchased for 2021...

Pascal Herard

Update 05/06/2021 at 18:53