France has ruled out legalizing recreational cannabis after deciding to ignore advice from one of the country’s most influential economic think tanks.
The Conseil d’Analyse Economique presented a 12-page report to the offices of President Emanuel Macron, Prime Minister Eduoard Philippe and the several other leading politicians. The CAE is an independent organization, but its primary role is to advise the President and Prime Minister on economic matters.
It urged the French government to follow in the footsteps of Uruguay and Canada by legalizing adult-use cannabis sales. Economists Emmanuelle Auriol and Pierre-Yves Geoffard, the lead authors of the report, said that reforming prohibition on marijuana is “an emergency”. They claim legalization is the most effective way to regain control of the market, which is currently dominated by criminal gangs.
The report stressed that, despite having some of the strictest anti-cannabis laws in the EU, the French are among the biggest cannabis users in the Union. It is particularly prevalent among minors, according to the CAE, and it believes legalization would lead to a decrease in consumption among youngsters, wipe out vast swathes of the black market and reduce crime.
Doctors, elected officials, and economists backed the proposal, which was also presented to the Minister of the Economy, the Chief of Staff and the Minister of Health.
However, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne ruled out legalizing recreational marijuana use today when she appeared on LCI television. “The position of the government is clear: we are against the legalization for fun,” she said.
The CAE argued that legalization would make sense from an economic point of view, as well as a social perspective. It estimates that France spends €586 million ($661 million) per year fighting the illegal cannabis market.
It believes a legal recreational cannabis industry could create between 27,500 and 80,000 jobs in France, while bringing in up to €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion) in tax revenues. It is estimated that 700,000 French people use cannabis daily, and 1.4 million use it on a regular basis.
Borne reiterated that the government continues to explore whether or not it should permit medicinal cannabis use. It has approved an official study into the benefits of medicinal cannabis and it will be completed before the end of 2019.