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When Will France Legalize Cannabis For Adult Use?

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Cannabis consumption in France is more common than in many other parts of the world, as demonstrated by recent survey data that was collected and analyzed by the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Tendencies. In its most recent survey involving adults aged 18 to 64, the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Tendencies found that 10.6% of the survey participants reported having consumed cannabis within the last year. With so many people consuming cannabis in France, it begs the question, when will France pass an adult-use legalization measure?

The same survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Tendencies, which was conducted in conjunction with the Santé Publique France agency, found that 47.3% of the survey participants reported having consumed cannabis at least once in their lifetime. To put these numbers into perspective, United States survey data indicates that roughly 49% of adults report having consumed cannabis at least once in their lifetime, and roughly 12% report being an annual consumer.

Yet, whereas the U.S. is trending in the right direction when it comes to cannabis reform, the same cannot be said about France. Late last year France lifted a previously implemented ban on CBD products, however, that is clearly not enough. Even with legalization looming across the border in Germany, leaders in France are indicating that they want to take a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Monitoring From Afar

Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is currently lobbying the European Union to gain approval for Germany to proceed with an adult-use legalization measure that would result in the launch of nationwide legal adult-use cannabis sales. According to recent comments made by Minister Lauterbach, he has received “very good feedback” from the EU and indicated that a formal introduction of a legalization measure will happen very soon.

Many countries around the globe are watching Germany with a very close eye, particularly countries on the European continent. Leadership in the Czech Republic has already indicated that it will try to follow Germany’s lead if/when Germany passes an adult-use legalization measure. Unfortunately, leaders in France appear to be taking a more passive approach.

“France will closely monitor the evolution of the German legislative framework, especially with regard to its potential impact on cross-border regions,” the office of French Health Minister François Braun recently told EURACTIV France. The comments from the French Health Minister do not instill any confidence that France will be legalizing any time soon. If anything, they seem to indicate that increased prohibition enforcement may be on the horizon along the France/Germany border.

Boosting Public Health

Whether international cannabis observers realize it or not, Germany is currently doing a considerable amount of the heavy lifting to legalize cannabis across the European continent. The biggest hurdle to comprehensive continental adult-use reform is the European Union, and if/when Germany can overcome that hurdle, it will have created an adult-use legalization blueprint for other European countries to copy, including France.

With a reported second-highest cannabis consumption rate on the European continent, France’s consumer base is enormous. With some minor exceptions, a vast majority of what France consumers are inhaling and/or ingesting is completely unregulated. That is problematic from a public health standpoint and can be largely mitigated by launching a regulated adult-use industry.

That premise largely serves as the crux of the argument being made right now by Germany’s Health Minister to the EU. It’s an argument that France would be well-served to be on the right side of, and there are calls from within France to do so. The consumption of unregulated cannabis products is a public health concern according to France’s Economic, Social, and Environmental Council. The Council is recommending legalization, and policymakers in France should follow that recommendation as soon as possible.