History of CBD and Cannabis: France
In terms of annual consumption, France ranks among the top for young adults who regularly consume cannabis. In 2012, one large scale poll showed that 13.4 million French people have tried cannabis at once. In fact, the country only ranks behind the Czech Republic, Spain, and Italy in terms of per capita consumption.
Since the early nineteenth century, cannabis has played a large social and political role throughout the country.
Cannabis, CBD, and France
The cannabis derivative hashish was first introduced to France during the period of Egyptian colonization. During Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion in 1798, troops picked up the habit of hashish use from the locals since alcohol was banned.
As smoking became very widespread over the course of two years, troop leaders ultimately ended up banning cannabis. However, most ignored the order and ended up transporting hashish back to France after the occupation.
Soon, cannabis became wildly popular in the country among elites. Cannabis was openly used in literary circles, coffee clubs, and within Enlightenment thinker coteries. Famous authors like Gautier, Victor Hugo, and Balzac were all a part of the Club des Hashischins in Paris, which provided them access to both cannabis and opium.
For another two hundred years, cannabis use was largely tolerated, even though local ordinances barred its use in public. Slowly, cannabis saw increasing restriction throughout the country due to the passage of the Medical Cannabis Act, which required patient prescriptions for legal use. France was also one of the first countries to sign onto the 1925 Geneva Convention on drugs in order to combat international substance trafficking.
In December of 1970, the national government finally opted to outright ban the use, sale, distribution, and cultivation of cannabis and its byproducts. Ultimately, this was due to international pressure that began in the United States.
During this time period, the US started to push increasing penalties on countries that had lax drug restrictions. It wasn’t uncommon for undeveloped countries that relied on American consumer markets to face harsh import tariffs, trade sanctions, and other economic dings.
It would take another forty years for the restrictions to start loosening. In the summer of 2013, cannabis derivatives were made legal for sanctioned manufacturers to produce. Qualifying patients with a doctor’s recommendation could gain legal access to low THC cannabis.
Although few patients secured access to cannabis at this time, it opened up a legal area for universities and scientific researchers to study the medical benefits of cannabis.
In 2017, the Minister of the Interior released a statement that cannabis policy would yet again see a massive reform. President Macron promised to decriminalize marijuana, which caused the penalty for possession to drop to a mere 200 euro fine.
Among residents, cannabis criminalization is seen as a barrier to individual liberty. Many French people hail from a tradition of deregulation and the power of personal choice, owing to the work of Revolutionary thinkers.