Marijuana is not a typical issue for discussion during the presidential race in France, but this year, four out of five candidates have expressed their support for the cannabis reform.
Marijuana is one of the most popular illicit substances in France. According to a 2015 public health study, about 700,000 people in the country consume pot daily. Moreover, one in ten residents reported using weed at least once in the past year.
However, the substance is still illegal, and its consumption is punishable by imprisonment for one year or a fine of up to 3,750 euros under the applicable legislation. Therefore, many voters hope that the next president will relax these rigorous regulations.
Fortunately, it seems that four out of the five main candidates share this concern with their voters.
For instance, centrist Emmanuel Marcon, who is now the leading candidate in the first round according to preliminary poll results, claims that police should punish public pot users with warnings and a 100-euro fine. Moreover, right-wing candidate Francois Fillon supports Marcon's proposal.
Though these measures may seem severe at first, in fact, it is a relaxation of the current restrictions. Police officers also support this idea as they complain about spending too much time on marijuana users and offence paperwork.
Two other candidates, left-wing socialist Benoit Hamon and hard left Jean-Luc Melenchon, have gone further and claimed that marijuana should be legalized in France. Melenchon thinks that marijuana legalization would allow France to monitor the industry more efficiently.
Benoit Hamon has spoken about his intention to fully legalize cannabis and establish government control over drug sales, taxes, and retail shops.
Only the far-right Front National Marine Le Pen is against any marijuana reform in the country. He thinks that any relaxation of marijuana restrictions is a crazy idea, and the government should do everything in order to protect the society from the substance and illegal drug dealers.
The first round of the presidential election in France will take place on April 23, and until that time, it is too early to make any predictions about the changes in the marijuana policy in the country.
What is more evident is that the cannabis movement in Canada and the U.S. is compelling French politicians to think about the irrationality of the current drug laws. Hopefully, the new president will translate the dreams of the French people for a cannabis reform into reality.