Macron to make live TV appearance as France’s PM warns ‘the second Covid-19 wave is here’

French president Emmanuel Macron is to make a live TV appearance as Covid-19 restrictions tighten and the country's prime minister warns of a second wave.

Macron to make live TV appearance as France's PM warns 'the second Covid-19 wave is here'
French president Emmanel Macron is to make a TV appearance on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

The president will make a live appearance on Wednesday evening, the Elysée has announced, saying he will speak on the subject of the pandemic and its economic and social consequences and answer questions from journalists.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Macron has made several live TV addresses to the nation, including the one on March 12th when he announced that the country was going into a complete, nationwide lockdown.

His latest address comes against the backdrop of a worsening health situation in France, with the prime minister Jean Castex warning: “The reality of the second wave is here – there can be no more slackening.”

READ ALSO 'No more slackening' warns French PM as two more cities move to maximum Covid-19 alert

French political leaders including Macron have repeatedly said they want to avoid a second nationwide lockdown of the type the country saw in March and April, which did major damage to the economy.

However as case numbers and hospital admissions continue to rise a series of local restrictions have been brought in for the worst affected areas, including Paris and Marseille.

EXPLAINED How France's Covid-19 alert system works

Speaking to French media on Monday, Castex said that local lockdowns “cannot be ruled out” if the situation does not improve.

Macron will be speaking at 7.55pm French time on Wednesday and the interview will be be broadcast on France 2, TF1, Franceinfo, LCI, and TV5 Monde.

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‘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.