Newsbrief: France Looking to Heighten Marijuana Penalties 1/3/03

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Moving resolutely backwards, the hardline French interior minister, Nicholas Sarkozy, is laying the groundwork to increase penalties for marijuana consumption and possible cultivation. According to a report in the Guardian (UK), Sarkozy has been consulting with cabinet members and other government officials about raising criminal penalties for marijuana users. Under current French law, the maximum penalty is one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The moves come at a time of increasing official concern about cannabis consumption in France, where an estimated three million people light up each day. The country is also awash in a "grow your own" mania stoked by two popular grow books, "Secret Smoke" and "Cupboard Growing," which have sold 100,000 copies between them. Police seized 40,000 plants in grow op raids in 2001, compared to 1,500 a decade ago.

The proposed clampdown will put the French government on a confrontation course with the country's growing cannabis culture. The Collective for Information and Research on Cannabis (, the country's leading marijuana legalization group, led by Jean-Pierre Galland, openly defied Sarkozy' sensibilities by sponsoring last month's Paris Hemp Salon. Police made no arrests. Nor have police moved against the 50 or so grow shops now operating in the county. But a confrontation could come next summer, as authorities weigh whether to bar the annual festival at Montjean-sur-Loire, where cannabis, "the symbol of the Loire valley," is celebrated.

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Issue #270, 1/3/03 Editorial: Constitutional Inconveniences | Pressure for Change Mounts as Ontario Judge Rules Canadian Marijuana Possession Law Invalid 270/californiabudget Budget Crisis Forces California Governor to Consider Early Releases, Other Prison Measures | Prosecutors Enlist in Drug Czar's Anti-Marijuana Campaign -- Will Prioritize Marijuana Cases, Lobby Against Reform | Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Newsbrief: Connecticut Legislator to Reintroduce Medical Marijuana Bill | Newsbrief: Prosecutors Seize Bail Money, Claim Pot Smell -- A New Tactic? | Newsbrief: Louisiana Drug Raid Draws Protests | Newsbrief: France Looking to Heighten Marijuana Penalties | Newsbrief: NJ Weedman to Get Day in Federal Court After Months in Jail for Thought Crime | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Farmers Drive Out Eradicators | Newsbrief: Ethiopian Farmers Turn to Khat in Face of Drought, Low Coffee Prices | DC Job Opportunities at DRCNet | The Reformer's Calendar

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