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HEALTH

Second Paris school closes after new coronavirus cases

France's schools only fully reopened on June 22nd, but in the first week of the full return two Paris schools have closed after staff and a pupil tested positive for Covid-19.

Second Paris school closes after new coronavirus cases
Illustration photo: AFP

On Tuesday a primary school in the 12th arrondissement closed after a pupil and a teacher tested positive for Covid-19.

Then on Wednesday morning a primary school in the central 4th arrondissement closed after a teacher tested positive for the virus.

All pupils and teachers at the school must now self-isolate for 14 days, and get a test done.

French schools break up for the summer holidays on July 4th, so neither school will now reopen before September.

However authorities are keen to stress that neither school is the centre of a cluster, and the closures are purely precautionary.

Ariel Weil, mayor of the 4th arrondissement, said: “There is no cluster, it's a precautionary measure taken by the ARS (the regional health agency).

“But when you think of all the work that has been done with the school principals and the teachers, with the application of such a tough health protocol,  meticulous cleaning of the premises by a private company, so that the school can finally reopen at 100 percent capacity on Monday… It's heartbreaking for all of us.”

French schools reopened on a limited basis on May 11th, with strict rules on class sizes which meant that less than half of pupils returned.

The number of classes reopening gradually increased and then from June 22nd the French government lowered the minimum amount of space needed per pupil and scrapped the maximum class size limit.

Since Monday school has again been compulsory for all pupils, although the education minister says that parents in high-risk groups who choose to keep their children at home will not be fined.

 

 

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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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