A French government report suggests the nation’s cannabis laws should be reformed in an effort to free up police, calling for fines instead of bringing cases to court, according to a France24 outline of the report, which is due Wednesday. The report recommends introducing a fixed fine of between 150 and 200 euros, allowing police to levy the citation and not get caught up in the bureaucracy of low-level cannabis offenses.
“The fixed fine of 150-200 euros that I propose would enable police officers in the field to stop the legal procedure there and then with the person who has been caught. The advantage of this is that the punishment is immediate and systematic.” MP Robin Reda, co-author of the report, to Le Parisien, translated by France24
During an appearance on French radio, Finance Minister Bruno LeMaire pointed out that France has the highest cannabis consumption rates in Europe – 40.9 percent – but also has the harshest punishments.
“This is my personal conviction: cannabis must not be legalized. On the other hand, we must take a good hard look at where we have gone wrong…we have the harshest laws in Europe, yet the highest consumption rates.” – LeMaire
According to the French government report, in 2015 there were about 64,000 drug-related convictions – 40,000 for illegal drug use – yet, just 3,098 resulted in a prison sentence. Supporters of the reforms argue that with so few people going to jail following an arrest, police might as well just issue a fine and move on.
Following last year’s election of liberal centrist President Emmanuel Macron, French officials announced that convictions of cannabis possession would no longer result in the possibility of imprisonment. However, government representatives insisted at the time that the plant was not being decriminalized.