Following the results of the European elections of 2014, during which it won 24 seats in the European Parliament, the French nationalist party Front National (FN) has been the object of revived interest from the French population as well as from other European countries. On this occasion, a video from 2011 seems to have resurfaced from the archives. This video shows studio images of an interview with Marine Le Pen, president of Front National, conducted by the French radio station Europe 1. This specific fragment deals with cannabis, and with the opinion of Mrs Le Pen in regards to its decriminalisation.
Following the results of the European elections of 2014, during which it won 24 seats in the European Parliament, the French nationalist party Front National (FN) has been the object of revived interest from the French population as well as from other European countries.
On this occasion, a video from 2011 seems to have resurfaced from the archives. This video shows studio images of an interview with Marine Le Pen, president of Front National, conducted by the French radio station Europe 1. This specific fragment deals with cannabis, and with the opinion of Mrs Le Pen in regards to its decriminalisation.
You can watch it (in French) here, or read the transcript below.
Radio host: The former Minister of the Interior Daniel Vaillant proposes, like many others, decriminalisation of cannabis, since we don’t seem to be able to limit illegal traffic. After all, it is like alcohol or tobacco.
Marine Le Pen: We do not manage to limit the traffic because we do not give ourselves the means to do so. That’s as simple as that. We are losing the war on drugs, but for a very simple reason, which is that we did not actually carry it out. So, this is really the easy way out, this is a profoundly dangerous idea. To those who say “oh well, hashish …” … well, turns out the products are much more dangerous in their composition now, than then, when Mr Vaillant was maybe a bit of a hippie, and maybe dragged a bit on the joint.” [Editor’s note: Mr Daniel Vaillant has never consumed cannabis.]
RH: Mr Vaillant explained that if this drug was legal, sold in an organized fashion by the government, we would have access to cleaner drugs, less dangerous than the illegal drugs that can be found on the market at the moment.
MLP (ironic): Yes, sure, and if you give me your wallet, you can’t accuse me of stealing it, right?
RH: He also specifies that cannabis is no more dangerous than whisky or vodka.
MLP: Wherever it has been done [i.e., decriminalisation] – I regularly discuss this with criminologists – the consequences have been dramatic. Decriminalisation has resulted in the explosion of drugs, with serious Public Health issues, with psychological consequences on the population that escalated significantly, and a criminality which is a repercussion of the lack of self-control induced by drugs. Of course, some people will be “reasonable”, but others will not, this is a false good idea that’s been around for 60 years now. Fortunately, the government has wisely decided not to give it a happy ending.
RH: A person from the audience asks if you have ever tried cannabis yourself.
MLP: No, no, I have never tried it. All of this is much too scary to make me want to try.
END OF TRANSCRIPT
French politicians opposing cannabis legalisation or decriminalisation has become quite the common occurrence. As documented by Sensi Seeds in the beginning of 2014, there are very few, if any, French initiatives favouring the versatile plant, even though it is recognized as beneficial by numerous cultures, and is even legal in some places. The current climate in regards to the legislation aspect of the plant should call for a global change of opinion, but France does not seem inclined to participate in this effort.
“We do not manage to limit the traffic because we do not give ourselves the means to do so.”
Every respectable cannabis activist will chant it at every occasion: the war on drugs is a stinging societal failure. Mrs Le Pen confirms it herself, “we are losing the war on drugs”.
However, the angle chosen by the president of FN is slightly different: apparently, the reason why France is losing the war on drugs, is because the country does not actually actively participate in it.
Nevertheless, in 2012, 90% of arrests linked to narcotics were related to cannabis. In 2011, governmental costs in regards to repression, prevention and related administration reached an amount of €916.59 million, including €300 million exclusively dedicated to arresting “offenders”. In 2013, 86 tonnes of cannabis were seized by French customs, a record number which is three times the already considerable amount seized in 2012 (24 tonnes). Of course, these numbers do not include cannabis seized inside the French territory.
Despite all these operations, the French are still well ahead in the top three of European cannabis consumers; in 2011, there were 13.4 million “experimenters”, including 3.8 million of consumers during that same year, with 1.2 million of regular consumers.
Seeing the aforementioned numbers, if the war against cannabis in France has indeed not yet begun, the average French citizen could start wondering about costs and potential dramatic consequences occasioned by a true and achieved war, as advocated by Marine Le Pen.
Mr Bertrand Rambaud, French medicinal cannabis patient and activist charged with possession of cannabis and incitement of drug consumption, even though he benefits from the plant for medical reasons, is probably splitting his sides upon learning that the war on drugs never occurred in France.
Sensi Seeds and the community of medicinal cannabis activists support him in this ordeal.
“The products are much more dangerous in their composition now, than then, when Mr Vaillant was maybe a bit of a hippie, and maybe dragged a bit on the joint.”
The products currently available in France originate from the black market of cannabis. Granted, the THC levels contained within the plant itself, depending on the strain, can be superior to those that people who have indulged during the seventies are familiar with. However, the potentially dangerous elements sometimes added to smuggled cannabis generally have close to nothing to do with its psychotropic agents. In the context of illegal trafficking, the integrity of the produced substances is more often than not compromised through other substances, whether these are hard drugs, toxic products, or other elements that can be harmful to consumers.
This may explain why French “hippies” suffering from conditions with symptoms that can be relieved by remedies based on cannabis generally take the initiative to grow their own plants, in order to obtain entirely natural products of a superior quality. Among the many conditions with symptoms that can be alleviated by cannabis use are cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and HIV.
The aforementioned Mr Daniel Vaillant, former Minister of the Interior and, according to the active imagination of Mrs Le Pen, supposed reformed hippie, incidentally gave his support to Mr Rambaud publicly, being himself a fervent defender of decriminalisation as a pragmatic and sanitary solution to the current situation.
“Wherever it has been done (i.e., decriminalisation), it was dramatic, it was the explosion of drugs.”
Public health issues”
Criminality which is a repercussion of the lack of self-control induced by drugs”
Aggravated psychiatric problems in the population”
There are a few countries and North-American states in which consumption and possession of cannabis is decriminalized or legalized.
Among the countries that opted for decriminalisation is the Netherlands, in which levels of violence, unemployment and drug-user-induced issues are among the lowest in Europe. The Dutch system, still flawed, has recently been the object of a few setbacks on certain points. Notably, efforts have been made in order to contain the drug tourism practiced by citizens of nearby countries – a direct consequence of repressive policies applied in most European nations, and beyond.
All the same, there are twice as many French cannabis consumers than Dutch cannabis consumers (proportionally to the respective sizes of these countries). Besides, the separation between the different drug markets prevents cannabis consumers from coming into contact with the hard drugs sphere, contact without which the transition from cannabis to harder substances seldom occurs. Indeed, the urban legend of cannabis as a gateway drug is finally wearing out, thanks to social studies as well as medical ones, benefitting the wiser distinction between correlation and causality.
On the legalisation front, the state of Colorado implemented its new system as of January 1st, 2014, and the news is good. Not only are crime rates dropping, but the few millions of dollars accumulated in terms of taxes constitute a positive aspect brought by this budding industry. A number of studies have shown that cannabis is less addictive than alcohol, caffeine, tobacco or certain hard drugs. The fears in terms of public health of some governmental entities should therefore be appeased once the next report is published, a well-expected end of year gift that the cannabis world will appreciate.
Dear Mrs Marine Le Pen, one cannot stop progress
“It is the easy way out, and a profoundly dangerous idea”, the president of FN stated about decriminalization. In the same video, Mrs Le Pen admits that she has never tried cannabis because of her fear of it, which presumably, partly explains her extreme views on the subject. Unfortunately, uninformed opinions have been the basis of the prohibitionist movement since the “Reefer Madness” era. But it has become increasingly difficult for this movement to remain convincing, especially thanks to the important number of medical and scientific studies unveiling the many properties of cannabinoids.
Hopefully, progress will catch up on the establishment once and for all, the legalisation movement will become broader, and this kind of speech will become a trend of the past.