France could become the next European country to legalise cannabis for recreational use.

Members of France’s Parliament, including MPs from Emmanuel Macron’s party, are looking to introduce a bill which would legalise the use and distribution of cannabis. The move has been predicted to raise as much as €2.8bn in additional annual tax receipts, according to government experts.

The group of MPs said on Thursday that the “the creation of a monopoly for the production and sale of cannabis through the creation of a national company [ . . .], will regulate production and sales while controlling consumption.”

A report from the Council of Economic Analysis, which advises the French PM on economic policies, recommending the government create a “public monopoly of cannabis production and distribution”.

According to the report, criminalising drug users has been a colossal failure:

“The prohibition system promoted by France for 50 years is a failure,” the report said.

The report also advocated for a “strictly-supervised” legalisation of cannabis, as this would best equip the French government to effectively challenge organised crime’s current monopoly of cannabis. Regulations would also restrict access to cannabis for minors, while developing the growing cannabis industry, creating jobs and generating tax revenue.

Despite the clear benefits to taking back control of cannabis from criminals, there remains strong opposition to the proposed measures within the French government.

“[Legalising cannabis could] raise as much as €2.8bn in additional annual tax receipts…”
– 
The Council of Economic Analysis

Elisabeth Borne, France’s transport minister, has already voiced strong opposition to the proposition of legalising cannabis for recreational use, but hasn’t ruled out introducing medical cannabis:

“The position of the French state is clear. We are against legalising cannabis for recreational use.

“There is an ongoing discussion about medical use.”

Legalising cannabis could have a significant impact on the French economy.

The French are one of the largest consumers of cannabis in Europe. According to the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction, 41.1% of people aged 15-64 had tried cannabis at least once in their life, more than double the European average of 18.9%.

Macron has already campaigned for a partial decriminalisation of cannabis in order to free police time to focus on more serious crime, and bring France more in line with its neighbours like Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Following new regulations that came into force in France in 2018, people who are found with cannabis for personal use are given fines of €150-€200.