Why is France Giving Away Free Weed?
Published on 12/20/20
French marijuana laws are conservative, especially when compared to other countries in the European Union. However, this month the French government released a decree detailing the country's plan for a limited medical marijuana experiment that could mean free cannabis for some people beginning in March 2021. We know it sounds wonderful, but there are some things to know before moving to France...
French Cannabis Laws
As of right now, France's laws against cannabis are strict with no legal outlets for medical or recreational-use marijuana until this experiment begins in 2021. It is also important to note that French law currently does not make a distinction between possession for personal use or trafficking. However, the French government prosecutes each offender on a case-by-case basis for their circumstance.
Beginning in 2008, France introduced 'Rapid and graduated' policy which allowed simple drug use cases to receive warnings as a caution, usually accompanied by a required drug awareness class and fine. Later in 2018, the government introduced a new policy that issued on-the-spot- fines of 200 euros for using cannabis. However it may sound, this policy does not decriminalize marijuana in France and allows further for criminal action against users.
People caught selling and distributing cannabis in France get much more severe punishment. If caught trafficking marijuana, offenders could be subject to up to ten years in prison and a 7.5 million Euro fine. Those numbers could double if found selling to minors or near educational establishments.
So are any cannabis products legal in France? Yes! With CBD's non-psychoactive effects, the French government permits the sale and use of these products in the country. Additionally, the Interministerial Mission Against Drugs and Addictive Behavior (MILDECA) has clarified that legal products are less than 0.2% THC or made from approved types of low-THC plants.
European Cannabis Laws
Despite what some may believe, possession of cannabis for recreational use is illegal in all European Union countries. About one-third of EU countries have decriminalized the drug and do not sentence users to jail time. However, distribution is much more serious and people caught selling can serve between 2 years to life in prison, depending on what country they're in.
There are a few exceptions to these rules, especially within decriminalized countries. For instance, the Netherlands designed a drug policy that tolerates adults over 18 buying up to 5 grams of cannabis from a specially permitted coffee shop. The Dutch recognize that it is impossible to prevent people from using drugs altogether and believes that this approach allows authorities to focus on criminals who profit and supply hard drugs. These lenient drug policies are setting the scene for marijuana use and its potential with socialized medicine.
French Free Medical Cannabis Experiment
Published on October 9, 2020, the French government's decree relating to the experimentation and medical use of cannabis is an exciting first step toward medical legalization in the country. For 2 years beginning in March 2021, doctors will prescribe 3000 patients free medical marijuana for the trial. As typical with the rest of Europe, doctors only prescribe medical marijuana as a last resort.
Of course, it will take time for France to get the specifics of the experiment down. The minister, along with the opinion of the general director of the French Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) will soon decide:
- The characteristics, composition, pharmaceutical form and technical specifications of cannabis-based medical products.
- Any conditions doctors will be able to prescribe medical marijuana within the experiment.
- Any specific procedures for importing, storing, distributing and controlling cannabis.
While the French parliament has not finalized much in regards to medical cannabis, doctors and pharmacies that are looking to get involved will have to complete a mandatory training program and volunteer for the trial. Since growing hemp and cannabis are illegal in France, companies will also have to import cannabis for use. Besides manufacturing companies supplying medical marijuana to the patients free of charge, these products will also have to comply with pharmaceutical standards and Good Manufacturing Practice. The experiment's final roadblock is that the budget is still not approved by the French parliament.
Of course, even with many potential setbacks, this French medical cannabis experiment is truly groundbreaking. With medical marijuana being conservatively prescribed as a last resort throughout Europe, this experiment can set the stage to see if socialized cannabis medicine could be a potential for the future.
What do you think of France's free medical marijuana trial? Let us know in the comments below!