Debates about cannabis decriminalisation oppose French government and NGOs

10 June 2011

In early June, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report which demonstrates that the current drug control strategy relying on heavy penalties towards drug users has failed. The report triggered heavy debates all around the world on the alternatives proposed by the Global Commission - decriminalisation of possession of drugs for personal use, and regulation.

As a response to the report, several French policy makers, including Claude Gueant (French Ministry of Interior) and Nora Berra (state Secretary of Health), strongly opposed the possibility of cannabis decrminalisation. Despite available evidence showing otherwise, Mr. Gueant declared: "If we decriminalise, we make access easier, which would increase health problems. With regards to delinquency and the phenomenon of gangs, it has been observed everywhere that decriminalisation of cannabis leads gangs to start trafficking other substances".

A number of French organisations working on drug policy and harm reduction reacted strongly to these statements. This was the case, for instance of AIDES and ASUD (Association Francaise d'Usagers de Drogues). Their statement, addressed to Nora Berra, is available in French below.

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