French MPs Write Anti-Cannabis Legalization Letter

In France, 80 members of Parliament have signed a letter decrying cannabis legalization. The letter hinges on tired, prohibition-era tropes including slippery slope fallacies and the disproven “gateway drug” theory.

Full story after the jump.

In a letter opposing cannabis legalization, French lawmakers say that were the nation to enact the reforms, they would also need to “legalize arms dealers, fiscal fraud, prostitution, and no longer punish excessive speed on the roads,” according to a Connexion France report.

The letter, signed by 80 members of parliament, was published Sunday in the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche in response to three of their colleagues calling for legalization in an op-ed in the newspaper last week. In the op-ed, the lawmakers argued that cannabis legalization is “the best way to eliminate selling and ruin drug dealers.”

“Legalizing the sale of cannabis will make current dealers turn towards other, even more dangerous substances,” the anti-legalization MPs argued. “Just because law enforcement struggles to keep up with dealers, doesn’t mean that we should legalize the practice.”

The letter contends that cannabis and other illicit drugs cause “psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, school failure, dropping out of school, dropping out of society.” They end the letter quoting Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin: “Drugs are shit.”

Darmanin made the comment last month, adding that he would not support legalization.

“There is no ‘soft drug.’ Drugs are a poison, a plague that we must fight. … 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.” – French MPs in the Sept.4 Le Journal du Dimanche op-ed

In July, French Prime Minister Jean Castex adjusted enforcement protocols for possessing certain drugs – including cannabis – opting instead for €200 on-the-spot fines. While the new policy appears to be a step toward more rational cannabis laws, activists claim that the ticketing policy has led to increased enforcement efforts.

In January, the Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament is set to begin testing medical cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy side effects.

Editor’s note: This piece was updated to better reflect the reality of France’s cannabis enforcement. While penalties for possession have been technically reduced, overall enforcement efforts have increased dramatically.

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