French opinion on cannabis is maturing, with a majority now favoring legalization, a new poll finds.
According to a new poll edited by the Institut français d’opinion publique (Ifop) for Terra Nova and Echo Citoyen, a think tank and a citizens’ political group, 51 percent of French people favor the legalization of cannabis, 40 percent are against it, and 9 percent did not have any opinion on the subject.
Thierry Pech, head of Terra Nova, said he believes a “turning point” has been reached in French attitudes toward cannabis.
“French people made the finding that prohibition and repression did not work to preserve the health of users” Pech told French public radio service France Info.
In France, cannabis is still illegal, punishable by one year of jail time and a fine of 3750 euros, or $4,352.49 US dollars as of the exchange rate Monday, June 18, 2018. Each year, around 144,000 people are arrested for cannabis use, mostly for possession of small quantities or public consumption.
The poll also examined the scenario of legalization. It found 72 percent were interested in legalization if the tax from legal sales could be used to finance the French health system. Also, 42 percent were interested in fighting smuggling, and 38 percent wished to educate the public about drugs.
The legalization of cannabis is mostly seen as a way for the country to earn revenue (72 percent), a way to have high-quality products on the market (70 percent) and possibly to reduce violence in some areas (61 percent).
Beyond adult-use legalization, 82 percent of French citizens favor medical use, and 62 percent support the availability of medical cannabis in all forms –dried flower, pharmaceutical drugs, oils, or extracts. The French tend to be inspired by the German medical cannabis system, as 56 percent think medical cannabis could be reimbursed by the French health system, as Germany does.
The global perception of the drug policy tends to be critical; 78 percent believe French drug policy is ineffective to counter drug trafficking and to limit the use of cannabis. Only 21 percent believe the current law should not be changed.
Medical cannabis has been legalized in 2013 in France but no cannabinoid-based drug has been available since then.