LEGALISATION of cannabis in France has hit a stumbling block after a group of ministers vowed to put up fierce resistance to proposals that would make marijuana legal.
Senators representing Le Républicains jointly published an open letter this week, attacking fresh proposals to relax drugs laws that would allow citizens to cultivate and use marijuana.
Led by LR leader Bruno Retailleau, the group of 80 ministers said cannabis should not be separated from other drugs in France.
Joined by high profile senators like Eric Ciotto, Gérard Longuet and Philippe Bas, Retailleau slammed: “There is no ‘soft drug’. Drugs are a poison, a plague that we must fight.”
The fightback was prompted by several ministers in the Sénat igniting debate on drugs laws by declaring they would support a change in legislation to make cannabis legal.
However, the reaction of many of Le Républicains would suggest the battle over regulation could be a drawn-out affair.
“In recent weeks, some mayors have restarted the debate by saying they are ‘for’ the legalisation of cannabis,” the open letter continued.
“We, MPs and Républicains senators, would like to remind them that we are strongly against this.”
Curiously, it was a group of fellow Le Républicains who triggered the initial debate by arguing that making marijuana legal was “the best way to eliminate selling and ruin drug dealers”.
Other parties are yet to declare their stance on the debate, suggesting they are perhaps happy to sit back and watch Le Républicains fight among themselves before joining in the debate.
For now, though, the 80-strong group of anti-weed MPs have shown no hesitance in their strong views, adding: “Legalising the sale of cannabis will make current dealers turn towards other, even more dangerous substances.
“Just because law enforcement struggles to keep up with dealers, doesn’t mean that we should legalise the practice.
“If we did that, we would also need to legalise arms dealers, fiscal fraud, prostitution, and no longer punish excessive speed on the roads!
“We see in our constituencies, parents who are overwhelmed by seeing their child addicted, their families destroyed, friendships disappearing because of drugs. People lose their jobs and young people fall into delinquency to get cannabis.”
Last month, France’s Interior Minister – Gérald Darmainin – did not pull any punches after hearing moves were afoot to force a debate on the subject.
“Drugs are s**t!” he declared.
“I will not say as Interior Minister, as a politician, to parents who are fighting for their children to escape addiction to this drug, that we are going to legalise this s**t.”
The debate – expected to rage on for many months – will be elevated even further by news that France’s Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament has said it will be investigating a case for clinical uses as it examines potential medical benefits.
The government agency is set to begin clinical research in January into the prospect of treatment for multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, neuropathic pain and chemotherapy side-effects.