French court rejects sick man’s cannabis plea

A French man suffering from a muscular disease since childhood had his request to be given the right to use cannabis for medicinal reasons rejected by a French court on Wednesday. To make matters worse he was fined €300 for possession.

French court rejects sick man's cannabis plea
Photo: AFP

“I’ve been condemned – my disease is incurable, and only cannabis can give me any relief,” Dominique Loumachi told French TV TF1, before Wednesday's verdict.

The 40-year-old man has suffered from myopathy – a condition that causes muscular degeneration and chronic pain – since the age of eight, but was put on trial last December for the ‘use and possession’ of cannabis, and had his homegrown plants seized by police.

Loumouchi has been smoking, eating and drinking tea made from cannabis in a ‘state of necessity’ – a legal defence in France which means that a person has no choice but to break the law in order to “escape present or imminent danger” or harm.

But on Wednesday a court in the eastern city of Belfort were unsympathetic to his plight and handed Loumachi a €300 suspended fine.

Loumachi describes himself as a reluctant cannabis user, and told TF1 he was dismayed to be forced to contribute to an “underground economy” in order to buy the drug, since his plants, which were for personal use only, were taken from him by police.

Before discovering cannabis in 1992, Loumachi, who walks with a limp and with the aid of a cane, was a self-described “guinea-pig for science”, undergoing years of onerous medical treatment and taking medications which he claims were ineffective and had dozens of negative side effects.

Today's verdict might not however be the end of the matter as Loumachi has vowed to take his case to the highest court.

“I will fight to be recognized by the courts, even if it means going to the European Court of Human Rights,” Loumachi told TF1.

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French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test

France's Europe minister on Monday called for "total transparency" over speculation that one of Italy's victorious Eurovision contestants used cocaine during the song contest, saying it should be grounds for disqualification if confirmed.

French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test
France's entry, Barbara Pravi, said she didn't care whether Måneskin had used drugs or not. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Damiano David, the outlandish vocalist for Italian rockers Måneskin, has agreed to take a drug test after video footage appeared to show him snorting something from a table backstage during Saturday’s contest.

“I think there needs to be no doubt here, and total transparency,” Europe Minister Clement Beaune, who attended the show in Rotterdam, told RMC radio. “If there is a problem, there are penalties… Provisions are made for sanctioning measures, including potential disqualification in case of problems.” 

French hopes had been riding high on singer Barbara Pravi, who was a bookmakers’ favourite to end France’s 44-year Eurovision drought with her
moody ballad “Voila.”

But she was edged out at the last minute by a surge in public votes for Måneskin, with a final tally of 524 to Pravi’s 499.

“I don’t want to be a sore loser,” Beaune said, but “in terms of image, we can’t let people think that such competitions can result in such behaviour.”

The president of France’s public broadcasting group, however, said Monday that France would not contest its second-place finish, no matter the speculation over David’s backstage antics.

“France has absolutely no intention to lodge an appeal,” France Televisions chief Delphine Ernotte told the Parisien newspaper. “The vote was quite clearly in Italy’s favour — it didn’t steal its
victory and that’s what matters,” she said.

Pravi herself said she was not interested in the speculation.

“What’s true is that they were chosen by both the public and the jury. Afterwards, if they use drugs or they put their underwear on backwards or whatever… it’s not my problem,” she told France 2 television on Sunday.