As the global perspective on cannabis continues to evolve towards more libertarian and progressive freedoms, France has taken a new approach to handling the way fines are processed for cannabis consumption.
President Emmanuel Macron announced a change in the payment process for cannabis-related fines, which will allow for on-the-spot payments.
This unwelcome development comes as France’s neighbor, Germany, is preparing to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Here’s what you need to know about France’s new policy.
On-The-Spot Payments for Cannabis Fines
Previously, individuals caught consuming cannabis in France were issued a fine, which they could either pay or contest by mail.
However, President Macron announced that the payment process would change, allowing individuals to make immediate payments to the police officer issuing the fine.
This can be done either in cash or by card, similar to certain traffic offenses.
Macron stated, “I have asked the Interior Minister to prepare a decree by the end of the summer, so that fines can be paid immediately, by bank card or in cash.”
How considerate of them! Clearly they want to make it easier to rob cannabis users of their money, there’s thousands to be made.
This change comes amid concerns that only 35 percent of fines issued for cannabis consumption are actually paid.
It’s important to note that individuals who choose to pay the fine on the spot will not have the option to contest it later. The fines for cannabis consumption range from €150 to €450, and non-payment can result in a court summons.
Cannabis Laws Remain Strict in France
Despite the new payment system, France continues to have some of the strictest cannabis laws in Europe.
The country does not allow the possession, consumption, growing, and dealing of cannabis for recreational purposes.
However, a trial is currently being conducted into using cannabis for medical purposes.
Interestingly, despite the strict laws, cannabis consumption in France is among the highest in Europe. An estimated 5 million people use cannabis annually, with 900,000 daily smokers. In 2016, 41 percent of French people aged 15 to 64 reported having used cannabis at least once, compared to the European average of 18.9 percent.
Public Opinion and the European Context
Various surveys and opinion polls have revealed that a majority of people in France are in favor of legal and regulated sales of cannabis for recreational purposes.
This includes half of the mayors within the Paris region. CBD shops, which sell cannabis products without the psychoactive ingredient, are legal and common in France, though the laws regarding what can be sold have changed repeatedly.
Meanwhile, just across the border, Germany is preparing to legalise cannabis for recreational use through a network of licensed social clubs.
So while France may have introduced a more efficient system for monetizing the use of cannabis, its laws regarding cannabis remain inhumane and unfit for purpose, much like in the UK.