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HEALTH

France v Ireland Six Nations rugby game postponed due to coronavirus outbreak

The France v Ireland rugby game that had been due to take place in Paris on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus situation in France.

France v Ireland Six Nations rugby game postponed due to coronavirus outbreak
France's final game of the Six Nations tournament has been postponed. Photo: AFP

The match – France's final game of the tournament, which had been scheduled for March 14th at the Stade de France in Paris – will now be played in October.

“Following instructions received from the authorities in France, the decision has been made to postpone the Round 5 Guinness Six Nations match between France and Ireland,” organiser Six Nations Rugby said in a statement.

The decision comes as France brings in a ban on all gatherings of more than 1,000 people as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in France passes the 1,000 mark.

French health minister Olivier Véran announced on Sunday night that all gatherings of more than 1,000 people would be banned, stepping up previous restrictions on gatherings of more than 5,000 people in enclosed spaces.

Organisers of the Paris marathon had already announced that will also be postponed until October.

The ban has some exemptions for competitions, public transport and demonstrations, but on Monday Six Nations organisers confirmed that the France v Ireland game has been postponed.

Two games in Italy had already been postponed.

It is thought that all postponed games will now take place in the autumn.

READ ALSO Should I cancel my trip to Paris because of coronavirus?

The cases in France are largely concentrated in four 'cluster' zones in the east of the country and despite the ban on gatherings most aspects of life in France are continuing as normal.

You can find the latest updates on the situation in France here.

 

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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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