The French government has recently announced its plan to introduce a new measure ending prison sentences for using weed. Although cannabis consumption remains a criminal offense, the new law falls in line with the campaign promise made by the newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron.
Currently, French citizens caught with marijuana face up to a year in jail and extreme fines of up to 3,750 EUR (approximately 4,200 USD). More than 180,000 citizens in 2016 alone were found to be in violation of the drug laws.
According to Christophe Castaner, the government spokesman, drug cases usually take up to six hours of police time, as well as about six hours for the presiding magistrate. The new law should free up additional time for police so they can pay attention to more important issues.
In 2014, about 17 million French citizens admitted to taking marijuana at least once with more than 700,000 saying that they consume it daily. The numbers are impressive; many citizens believe Macron should take more significant steps towards cannabis reform.
French marijuana laws are still among the strictest in the European Union. Changing prison sentences and enormous fines in favor of just a 100 EUR fine for marijuana possession with no prosecution can be the first step to cannabis decriminalization. The new measure will still annoy French people, but it is much better than the current laws.
Although the new law found significant support from police unions, it wasn’t welcomed by magistrates.