While more than 70 prominent people are signing a letter to defend the legalization of cannabis, the Economic Analysis Council (EAC) published a report on Thursday, June 20, calling for the creation of a state-regulated industry. Despite the reluctance of the medical profession, which defends the exclusivity of targeted therapeutic use, public opinion and the debate are evolving.
Despite attempts to stem the tide of legalization, the use of cannabis products is growing. In Denver, Colorado, Illegal Burger is an example of a forward-thinking brand that has moved into the $780 billion fast casual dining sector with a menu with a difference. Owned by West Coast Ventures Corp. (OTC: WCVC), it is the first bona fide CBD (cannabidiol) restaurant company and offers its customers a CBD-infused menu.
Illegal Burger is able to establish franchises in 31 States. It is also ready to move into the remaining 19 whenever it gets a green light. One of its restaurants alone is set to make more than $1 million in sales this year.
Jim Nixon, Illegal Burger’s CEO, discovered the benefits of CBD oil when his son started taking it to manage his MS. The measurable changes in his son made him a convert. Through the Illegal Burger brand, he aims not only to offer healthy, quality food, but to improve people’s quality of life and make a difference through the delivery of CBD.
Does this growing use, awareness, and debate signify a turning point in the legalization of cannabis? On Thursday, June 20, several lights came on simultaneously. The Economic Analysis Council (CEA), an agency of Matignon, presented a report in which two economists considered that “the prohibition system promoted over the past 50 years is a failure.”
Based on the few experiments already underway (notably in Colorado, Uruguay and Canada), the authors believe that the State should manage the cultivation and sale of the product itself in specialized shops and that it should be prohibited to minors.
This revolution would make it possible to meet the two objectives presented as priorities: “combating organized crime” and “restricting access to the product for the youngest.” The establishment of a new economic sector would also have the merit of creating, according to them, “between 27,000 and 80,000 jobs,” while taxes could bring in between 2 and 2.8 billion euros per year.
A new forum
In parallel, more than 70 doctors, lawyers, economists and elected officials from various political parties published a letter in L’Obs to demand that “cannabis be legalized for therapeutic, recreational and recreational use by consumers over 18 years of age.” Among them are two heavyweights from La République en Marche (LREM), MEPs Aurélien Taché and Pierre Person – the latter being second in command of the movement. Environmental MEP Yannick Jadot is also involved.
Finally, these claims collide with the work of a committee of experts, tasked by the National Drug Safety Agency (ANSM) to submit – again on Thursday, June 20 – a framework project for testing the use of therapeutic cannabis.
Only specialist doctors practicing in referral centers (pain medication, multiple sclerosis, etc.) should be able to give the initial prescription, according to the committee’s opinion. Once validated by the ANSM in July, the experimental project could start as early as early 2020. However, this openness must be distinguished from the general debate, since doctors who defend therapeutic use are often reluctant to accept general legalization because of proven health risks.
A divided public opinion
However, attitudes are changing. “We are at a turning point in the trivialization of the phenomenon,” says Robin Reda, formerly of the Republican Party (LR). “Many countries have recently changed their legislation, France cannot remain isolated in the face of changing morals,” says this co-author of the report on the fixed fine in January 2018, which was included in the reform of the justice system promulgated last March. Consumers arrested can now be fined €200 instead of going to court where they could face up to one year in prison and a fine of €3,750. However, the system is not systematic and the police are responsible for deciding on a case-by-case basis between the application of a fine or criminal proceedings.
However, this undermines the criminal dimension of drug use. Without going so far as to legalize, which is considered risky from a health point of view, Robin Reda calls for security responses to relieve the courts: “We must invest in the fields of information and prevention,” he pleads.
The possibility of the over-the-counter sale of cannabis according to a model similar to that of tobacco or alcohol is far from being unanimously accepted, since 61% of French people are “rather opposed” to it, according to a study by the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) published this year. “The real issue is the regulatory framework that would be chosen,” says Stanislas Spilka, head of statistical surveys at the OFDT, “because when the question is simply asked about legalization, the proportion of people who say they are opposed rises to 54%.”
The government, on the other hand, has remained cautious. The President of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, did not rule out a debate in the Chamber on Thursday, June 20, but Matignon said he remained “clearly opposed to the legalization of cannabis.”