France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) has valued the trade of illegal drugs in France at €2.7 billion. This equates to around 0.1% of France’s entire GDP.
INSEE’s head, Ronan Mahieux, said this valuation probably underestimates the true value of France’s illegal drugs market. The valuable is an estimation based on information given by legal respondents under interviewing conditions.
Mahieux pointed out that many of these respondents will have underestimated the number of drugs they were likely to have purchased.
France’s most popular drugs that account for the vast majority of this €2.7 billion valuation include both cocaine and cannabis. The illegal cocaine trade is believed to be worth around €800 million whilst the illegal cannabis trade is thought to be worth over €1 billion.
Days before the INSEE published these findings, President Macron stated that France has lost its battle against illegal drug dealers, particularly in social housing estates (known as banlieues) where the sale of illegal drugs goes on unchallenged.
The banlieues are located within all of France’s major cities. These areas are populated by ethnic minorities and migrants.
Like most presidents before him, Macron has promised to ramp up law enforcement in order to ‘deal with’ the situation, even though such measures are ineffective and likely to disproportionately and unfairly affect people of colour.
France’s interior minister, Gérard Collomb, is a supporter of increasing police presence in order to combat drug trafficking and violence related to the illegal drug trade. For instance, Collomb recently authorised the deployment of 60 police officers to Marseille’s Brusserine district following a number of gang-related killings. Also, back in 2017, Collomb oversaw the passing of a measure that prevents people convicted of drug offenses from returning to the local area upon being released from prison.
Since the illegal cannabis trade accounts for well over 35% of France’s illegal drug market, perhaps the time has come to legalise cannabis. Doing so would clearly give France’s economy a much-needed boost, whilst also serve to take away trade from dangerous criminal gangs.
Despite these calls to legalise cannabis, it’s unlikely to happen any time soon. On a more positive note, possession of small quantities of cannabis will be decriminalised. Instead, those found in possession of cannabis will face a fine rather than being prosecuted.
In France, poll after poll proves the French public support cannabis legalisation. One reason for this is because the current approach is seen as failing in its attempt to prevent the sale of illegal drugs.