France is considering decriminalising all drug use

AnewparliamentaryreportinFrancehasrecommendeddecriminalisingalldruguse.TheFrenchgovernmentisconsideringactingontherecommendation,buthasn’tannounceditsdecisioneitherway.

TwomembersFrance’sNationalAssembly,EricPoulliatAMfromthegoverningcentristpartyEnMarcheandRobinRedaAMfromthecentre-rightRepublicansparty,werecommissionedbytheNationalAssemblyLawsCommissionwingthegovernmenttoinvestigatethecountry’sdruglawsandfindmethodstolessenthestrainonitspenalsystem.

Despiteworkingonthereporttogether,thetwopoliticiansreacheddifferentconclusionsonhowbesttoaddresstheissue,andprovidedthegovernmentwithtwooptions.

Poulliatrecommendedafixedfinebetween150to200Eurosshouldbeimposeduponpeoplefoundinpossessionillegaldrugs,andthatcriminalprosecutionshouldfollowiftheydonotpaythisfineinanspecifiedtimeperiod.

Redaproposedthatdrugpossessionshouldbedecriminalised,sothatpeoplecannotbecriminallyprosecutedforthefence.Herecommendedafineshouldstillbeimposed,whichwouldincreaseifleftinarrears,butthiswouldneverescalatetobeingacriminalfence.

Currently,Frenchlawstatesillicitdrugpossessioncanbepunishedbyupto10yearsinprisonandamaximumfine€7.5million.Itisraretoseethesemaximumpunishmentscarriedout,andfencesareusuallytreatedwithsmallerfinesorcautions.

However,Frenchficersaregivensignificantpersonaldiscretion,andhavebeenandotherdiscriminatorybehaviour.Eachthenewrecommendationsallowssimilarlevelspersonaldiscretion,solooktobeineffectiveintacklingthisissue.TheyaremoregearedtowardsreducingcongestioninFrance’scriminaljusticesystemthanalletingtheharminstitutionaldiscrimination.

BenaminJeanroy,theco-founderandheaddrugpolicyatFrench“actiontank”reformgroup,toldthatPoulliat’srecommendationparticularlyriskscontinuing“thediscriminationinthecriminaljusticesystem,becausethesamepeoplewillcontinuetobearrestedandharassedbecausedrugconsumptionandpossession–particularlyyouthfromimpoverishedneighbourhoods.Poulliat’sproposal]willinitiatearenewaltensionsbetweenthesepopulationsandthepoliceforces”.

Headdedthattoeffectivelytackletheissuedrugs,ficialsmust“searchforalldistributionchannels:fromthesmallstreetdealertotheheadthenetwork”andbringthemtojustice.

PresidentEmmanuelMacronhaspreviouslybackedcannabisdecriminalisationpriortohiselectionwin,buthisstanceonwiderdrugpolicyisnotclear.

TheParliamentaryreviewwhichmaybringeitherthereports’recommondationsintolawisscheduledtotakeplacethisSpring.

Via:]

PatrickHintonisMixmag'sDigitalStaffWriter,followhimon

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