France and Cannabis – What’s the Latest ?
What does the seventh strongest economy in the world have offer to the budding cannabis industry globally? Read more to find out!
France has established itself as one of the most powerful economies in the world. When one thinks of the country the first thing that comes to mind is a nation that is forward thinking in their approach, have amazing fashion sense and love food! France is also home to unconventional societal norms by which smoking and drinking is pretty much part of the culture. A lot of the research and the anti-smoking movements all over the world have had little to no impact in France and people there continue to enjoy their tobacco and wine. France is a home to some of the most stunning sights in the world and the French culture is aped by many communities all over the world and is incomparable when it comes to class and glamour.
France is home to Paris the fashion and culture capital of the world from where many drugs and their consumption have gained mass popularity. In fact French culture has had a lot to do with mainstreaming the idea of cannabis consumption. All the most famous designers in the world who have hailed from there have been connoisseurs of good quality cannabis and have vouched for its effect in enhancing productivity and creativity.
Cannabis consumption is not a novel concept in France. Around 1.2 million people in France consider themselves regular users of cannabis and have tried the drug and gotten hooked to it. While there are many law issues that surround cannabis and its consumption and we will get into those as we progress, it is important to know that France has a budding consuming market. This market however, is warped by the stringent laws that exist in France which cripple the amount of money that can be made by selling and manufacturing cannabis.
Before anything else, the question arises, how did cannabis make its way into the sophisticated country? Who introduced it there and how did it gain its popularity. It dates back to Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign of 1798 when due to a lack of alcohol, his troops turned to cannabis instead. As per typical Napoleon fashion, cannabis was banned but despite that soldiers brought the drug back with them and cannabis use steadily grew in popularity.
So what exactly is France’s deal when it comes to cannabis consumption? For many people it remains a mystery as to why any country with such huge potential in terms of consumption would ban a drug that can help them boost their economies in unlimited ways. For many nations it is the preconceived notion of the drug that comes in the way of legalisation. Many believe cannabis to be the drug of hippies and therefore by mainstreaming it they are going to be taking in critique of locals.
France inhabits a progressive society so when science hinted towards cannabis being part of extreme medical benefits for patients who suffer from pain, anxiety, cancer and other problems- France responded by legalising it for medical use. In the same situation the overall world dynamic were softening towards cannabis use, finally people were seeing the many benefits it gave to users instead of seeing it as the drug consumed by rock stars and ‘outcasts’. France as of now has legalised the use of medical cannabis and many believe that of all the nations in the world it is the next one waiting to make the drug legal for rehabilitation very soon. We will dissect each facet of cannabis consumption, legalisation and the future of the industry ahead.
As mentioned earlier, French people are democratic by nature and freewill and choice has a lot to do in their opinions. No less would be expected from citizens of the part of the world that allowed the dreamers and outcasts to become relevant voices. According to a poll conducted by CSA in November 2013, 55% of French people were opposed to the decriminalization of cannabis and 44% said that it is a matter of personal will weather a person chose to consume it on it, however banning it is an act of censor on person choice and it is not a good idea.
After 2018 and the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes there has been a significant change in the dynamics of selling cannabis. There is a legal loophole benefit taken by certain cities in France. Taking full advantage of legal loop holes, many cities in France have chosen not to prosecute these cannabis selling shops and are allowing them to continue trading in the “legal grey zone”. If sales from these shops are indication to go by, the usage of cannabis in France will increase exponentially in the coming years. The country is just warming up to welcome its new set of mentality towards cannabis and the potentially budding industry.
Interestingly France ranks fourth in terms of monthly consumption in all of Europe and 1.2 million people in France are regular consumers of cannabis. This proves one fact- Cannabis is available in the local markets and is sold under guises, but it is available. There has been paradigm shift in the way the government has started to approach the drug and its users. The legalisation of medical cannabis is seen by many as the road that will ultimately lead to legalising rehabilitation cannabis. As it is there are many loop holes in the law which bring down the severity of cannabis possession and consumption. The funny thing is, a few years ago France happened to be one of the most anti-drug countries in all of Europe. This sudden shift in attitude came as a pleasant surprise for many free thinkers in the country!
Another interesting change of events that took place when it came to cannabis and its consumption is the decrease in penalty that was brought about by President Macaron when he campaigned for president. His logic was that he wished to free police time. Previously offenders would receive heavy fines of €3,750 and year long sentences. This was never a much liked law by many citizens and President Macaron had his party campaign for decriminalization so that the police would have time to bother with more serious cases. This move also aligned France with many of its neighbours like Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland where citizens are allowed to use cannabis as a recreational drug. Another law was introduced where smaller amounts of cannabis found in possession are fined with very small amounts. This being said the authorities are very aware of a black market existing where cannabis is brought and sold.
With the legalisation of medical cannabis interesting trends have started cropping up in different parts of France. A study concluded that in many parts of France millennials do not seem to be jumping the bandwagon of cannabis consumption, it is mostly the middle aged people who are excited at the age. This does however depend on where you live. A study completed by ODFT (Observatoire Français des Drogues et Toxicomanies) in September 2018 found that cannabis use is decreasing among 17-year-olds (as is alcohol and cigarette consumption). The most interesting aspect of this is that France for many epitomizes freely smoking and drinking, it is perhaps one of the only countries in the world where smoking indoors isn’t frowned upon and called out ferociously. There is still a teenage population in the country who are very prone to using cannabis, drinking and smoking. Most of the teenage users hail from the south of the country. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the country’s map can be divided easily in halves by way of those who are in favour of cannabis and those who are not. However overall it’s an easy claim that with the political stance softening majorly, the cultural and economic stances have also become much more lenient.
There has been a rise in the number of cannabis dispensaries which have opened up in the major cities of France selling a type of legal cannabis. This is where it gets interesting and the loophole in the law become clear.
Cannabis is an amalgamation of 113 different types of drugs, there are many and each have their own properties but the most mind altering drug found in cannabis is THC. This is the psychoactive drug found in cannabis which is responsible for the strength of the high a person experiences. The more concentrated a cannabis strain is in THC the more powerful punch it will pack when it is consumed. Dealers are now allowed to sell cannabis with THC levels of 10-15%. Even with the relaxed sanctions, French law now states that the drug cannot be sold at more than 0.2% THC so these new shops now sell cannabis which adheres to the limits prescribed by the law. To keep on the right side of the law, they do not advocate smoking it but making teas with it this was consumption quality is not reduced and they are able to sell cannabis without the strict regulations. For the first time in their lives, French people are able to buy drugs at a cashier’s desk and get a receipt.
These loopholes exist and it is this inefficiency of the law which is making a case for nationwide legalisation. Under these sanctions the black market is booming and a lot of money which could be made through empowering and enabling the cannabis industry is being wasted. Cultivating cannabis is also not allowed yet in France. This is also going to be a major concern in the future as all the cannabis related products are being imported. There will also need to be proper emphasis on research on cannabis industry and its growth. As the realm of cannabis related medicine expands, France will also have to look into creating professionals who have expertise in handling the drug and assisting the world research in terms of medicinal breakthroughs.
As is the case with any new concept, after providing proof people become earnest to try it. Similarly a month after the CSST published its first recommendations on the use of medical cannabis in France, a poll demonstrated that business industries, health sector and local citizens were all starting to change their mind. The poll showed that 82% of those surveyed were in fact in favour of medical cannabis.
The movement in the pharmacist industry has been a long time coming. Most of the advanced world economies are looking to use cannabis and its many benefits to develop researches and find cures for illnesses, in light of these advancements France does not want to be left behind. Canada by legalizing it nationwide has already taken a very powerful step to be the most information potent player in the cannabis industry. Most world leaders agree that while there is a need of major interventions and research, medical cannabis and its many advantages need to be researched and integrated in health systems to help people.
In conclusion, as France softens its stance towards recreational of cannabis and moves forward with gusto towards advancements in medical cannabis it will be very interesting to see how the law makers use this new found acceptance and change it into policy. There is however a bit of time until recreational cannabis is allowed to be consumed openly, but the world awaits as France moves forward in its journey towards legalising or tightening sanctions towards cannabis. For now it seems that legalisation is the more likely outcome due to the sheer potential the industry poses in terms of revenue for the French economy!
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