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The French government is actually considering decriminalising all drugs

For a country with traditionally prohibitive drug policies, this is big news

In a new report, two French assembly members, Eric Pulliat and Robin Reda, have recommended some options intended to “alleviate strain” on the country’s criminal justice system. Here's the really interesting bit: among the options put forward is the complete decriminalisation of all drugs.

Despite writing the report together, Poulliat and Reda disagreed on the right solution for responding to personal drug use and possession, and have left the decision up to the government. Poulliat proposed that if someone was found possessing drugs, they should pay a fine of €150-200, and then face criminal prosecution if they don’t pay the fine in time. But Reda, apparently the more wild of the two, suggested that personal drug use and possession should be downgraded to a non-criminal offence. Fines would still be in place, but there would no longer be the chance you might get thrown in jail. 

Speaking to TalkingDrugs, Benjamin Jeanroy, cofounder and head of drug policy at French drug reform organisation ECHO, said that as drugs laws in France do not differentiate between different drugs in the way that ours do, “there is no legislative distinction between cannabis and any other drug, so the report cannot create a specific way to deal only with cannabis”. This means that the proposed decriminalisation would theoretically apply to literally all drugs. Currently under French law, drug possession for personal use can be punished by up to 10 years in prison or with a fine of up to €7.5 million.

Decriminalisation is a bold move, and would be way ahead of our own country’s increasingly strict drug policies. It would work out better for the user, the criminal justice system, and basically everyone else involved – but the government’s intentions wouldn’t actually be to protect people in possession of drugs from the potential harms of criminalisation. It would only be to alleviate pressure from the police and “decongest the criminal justice system”. In other words, it wouldn't actually tackle underlying issues like the French police's discrimination towards people of colour, and even with decriminalisation this discimination could still be implemented. Still, here's hoping that other governments are paying attention – softer criminal approaches to drugs overall would hopefully mean less incidents like the party in Atlanta this month where all the attendees were arrested for having less than an ounce of marijuana