Several hundred people marched through the streets of Paris, advocating for full legalization of marijuana in France
Emboldened by the success of legalization initiatives in the United States, pro-marijuana organizations around the world are taking a more proactive stance. The latest example of civil action directed at legislative change happened in Paris, where a crowd of cannabis supporters held a rally to promote their goals. A large group of people took to the streets to demonstrate their numbers and publically argue for introduction of a more liberal regulative framework in the near future. Marijuana is currently illegal in France and possession can be punished by monetary fines and imprisonment, although the law is rarely enforced when small quantities of the drug are involved.
Many participants were dressed in Jamaican colours or had T-shirts and caps with legalization-themed slogans, while the characteristic smell of marijuana smoke enveloped the gathering at all times. Some of the marchers came only to catch a thrill of smoking in public without fear of being prosecuted, but others seemed to be adamantly in favour of sending a strong political message and demanding smarter policy. Many were quick to point out all the benefits that marijuana brings to people with serious medical conditions, as well as the positive impact of legalization on crime.
Senator Esther Benbassa, who sponsored the unsuccessful attempt at cannabis regulation the last month, attended the rally in person and gave full support to the causes. She expressed belief that morality is the chief obstacle holding back modernization of marijuana laws in France, with the state intervening to prevent smokers from “getting on the wrong track”. Senator suggested that cannabis use should be treated as a public health issue instead, with more rational approach to the challenges of safe distribution and consumption.
It is difficult to estimate how much this event would influence French political decision-makers, as the country lags behind some other EU members that have already decriminalized marijuana. Having an alternative voice heard publically is certainly a step in the right direction that puts pressure on the establishment to do something sooner rather than later.
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