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POLITICS

Marine le Pen backs father’s Norway comments

The head of France's far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, has said she "did not disagree" with the party's founder, her father Jean-Marie, when he blamed Norway's attacks on government "naivety."

Marine le Pen backs father's Norway comments

Jean-Marie Le Pen was heavily criticised last week for writing on his blog that the Oslo government’s “naivety” was to blame for the July 22 killings of 77 people in anti-Labour Party attacks by a far-right Islamophobe.

Le Pen accused Norway of not correctly handling immigration, one of the FN’s central policy concerns – and something that obsessed Norway’s self-confessed mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik.

“If I had disagreed or if I felt his words were shocking, I would have said so,” Marine Le Pen, who has been trying to give the party a friendlier face since succeeding her father as party head in January, told Europe 1 radio on Friday.

Her father “raised the question, and it’s a real question, about society’s choices,” she said.

The opposition Socialists’ interim head, Harlem Desir, slammed Marine Le Pen’s position as showing that “the party has not changed.”

“Marine Le Pen has ended her silence but unfortunately (only) to justify the revolting,” Desir said in a statement.

“By backing her father’s words instead of firmly condemning them, Marine Le Pen is justifying the worst and insulting the memory of the 77 killed” in the Norway bombing and mass shooting, he said.

POLITICS

‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief. 

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