The French government has announced that low-level cannabis offenses will now be met with fines of 150 to 200 euros, but ruled out broad decriminalization, France24 reports. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that while on-the-spot fines would be the new law of the land, further action against offenders would remain an option.
According to the report, in 2015, 140,000 people in France were arrested for drug offenses, with just 3,098 sentenced to incarceration. The move is expected to free up police.
“In the past, police officers and judges would spend a lot of time on procedures which ended in formal warnings being given, so it didn’t serve any purpose.” – Parliament Speaker François de Rugy, to BFMTV/RMC, translated by France24
The reforms were originally pushed in May by President Emmanuel Macron who has suggested capping the fines at 100 euros. Earlier this week, the government issued a report which included the new fine scheme. During an appearance on French radio on Monday, Finance Minister Bruno LeMaire pointed out that France has the highest rate of cannabis consumption rates in the European Union but still had “the harshest laws in Europe.”
Germany, Belgium, and Italy are among the bloc nations that have decriminalized cannabis possession.