France to Gauge Public Opinion on the Legalization of Recreational Cannabis

French flag cannabis plant


  • An imminent nationwide survey produced by a group of French MPs launching to better understand public opinion on recreational cannabis legalization
  • Set to go live on the National Assembly (Assemblée nationale) website for one month and will be composed of four or five questions
  • Results of the survey to be released March or April
  • France has the highest recorded number of cannabis users in Europe — over 40% aged 15-35 are consuming (or have consumed) cannabis
  • Recreational cannabis currently illegal, those caught can face hefty fines or jail time (depending on quantity and intent) 
  • Medical cannabis is also set to be discussed, outlining the uses, benefits, and risks based on prior research and studies

France is set to launch a nationwide survey in an attempt to better understand public perception of recreational cannabis legalization before being debated in parliament.

Led by Robin Reda, MP for Essonne, and his team, the survey will consist of four or five questions and is expected to go live on the National Assembly (Assemblée nationale) website in the next coming weeks.

The survey is said to be available for a month and results will be published by March or April at the latest.

Speaking with AFP, Reda believes “the goal is to inform the debate as much as possible”, adding “the success of the survey will depend on the largest number of people possible participating”.

According to a report conducted by The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in 2015, France had the highest number of cannabis users in the whole of Europe. Nearly 41% of the population aged 15-35 had used (or are using) cannabis, beating Denmark, Spain, and the UK.

Public rally in France to legalize marijuana

Currently, recreational cannabis possession and use in France is illegal and has been since the 1970s. Punishments are strict. On-the-spot fines of €200 are handed out to low-level cannabis crimes, while substantial fines and/or jail time are given out in more severe cases. 

Possible expansion of medical cannabis access?

Reda and his team are also set to introduce their findings on the use of medical cannabis, as well as hemp-derived CBD, in February. These findings will be based on prior studies and research into the efficacy, risks, and benefits of both.

The use of medical cannabis is currently limited to patients with certain conditions, though some steps have already been taken to fully understand how medical cannabis can benefit the population. 

At the end of 2020, the French government published a decree signed by the Minister of Solidarity and Health, Oliver Véran, allowing a medical cannabis pilot program to go ahead. 

Roughly 3,000 patients will have free access to pharmaceutical-grade medical cannabis in non-smokable form over the course of six months. The program was originally slated to begin in March 2020 but due to coronavirus-related concerns, the start date has been moved to 2021. 

Not everyone is eligible to be part of this program, however. Only patients with the following diseases and conditions can participate:

  • Refractory neuropathic pain
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) spasticity pain 
  • Palliative situations
  • Cancer and anticancer treatment-related symptoms 
  • Specific forms of drug-resistant epilepsy 

If medical cannabis is fully legalized, an estimated 300,000 to 1 million potential patients could be eligible.