Eva Joly: the lone runner of cannabis legalisation


Michel Henry, Liberation’s self-styled personal trainer to the presidential candidates, asks why Eva Joly seems to be the only one talking drugs.

Photo: Jean-Michel Sicot for Libération. Caption: Paris 30th January, 2012. Eva Joly at an Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) press conference in the Maison de l’Europe.

Article source: “Eva Joly, en coureuse solitaire sur la légalisation du cannabis”, Michel Henry, Libération (30/03/2012)


The polls show it: Eva Joly is running alone, far behind the leading pack. On the up side this means she can talk about serious issues. On the down side it means nobody listens to her. It’s a shame because some of her measures are worth taking the time to consider. Like the legalisation of cannabis, which would make it possible to “fundamentally undermine the black market” and fight against gun running, she explained on March 23rd. According to the EELV candidate, legalisation would be “a first step that would enable us to settle many problems in the housing estates on the outskirts of big cities.”

It’s not a stupid idea. It involves testing a controlled and supervised official market of cannabis in order to break the illegal trade, which is a source of violence.  The concept has the support of credible figures, like Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the UN, five former Presidents of Latin American countries, and Daniel Vaillant (PS). It is based on a simple observation: the prohibition of cannabis is a failure. In spite of the ban, consumption is not decreasing, nor is dealing, which is making life impossible on some estates, and leads to the deaths of young people in gangland killings. We should remember the prohibition of alcohol in the United States in the 1920s: it was abandoned because it caused more problems than it solved. The situation is similar today in France where cannabis is concerned.

Get stoned in peace...”

This question is worthy of debate. But, as has often been the case in this campaign, serious topics are swept under the carpet. Weak and, above all, perverse reasoningfulminated Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Nicolas Sarkozy’s spokeswoman. Completely irresponsible and populist said Éric Ciotti (UMP). For him, “legalising cannabis would be like saying to the French people: Get stoned in peace, you’re not risking anything.”

What about the PS? Legalisation is not one of their candidate’s proposals, spokesman, Bruno Le Roux is quick to point out: “These ideas were brought up with a few differences by Daniel Vaillant in a report made almost a year ago (...). So is this the best and only solution? We should give it some thought.” François Rebsamen, Hollande’s crime and security advisor, “is currently considering this question in light of the report,” according to Vaillant. The message from the PS: let’s put this off till later, like all sensitive issues.

This is all the more true considering that François Hollande would like the “ban to remain in place.” Cannabis aside, however, he is in favour of an advance concerning other illegal drugs; something he slipped into the debate almost on the sly: he supports the establishment of experimental “consumption rooms,” in Paris and Marseilles, where intravenous drug users could take drugs in hygienic conditions.

These rooms exist in several European countries, which claim they contribute to noticeable improvements in public health. In France they are taboo. The UMP does not want them. The PS, on the contrary, would like to try them. It is a first step in a process (the management of illegal drugs) where France is severely lagging behind.

The candidates ignore this subject, about which they don’t necessarily know an awful lot. The campaign could help them, and us, to improve our understanding. In a pragmatic book, which hit the shelves recently, lawyer Francis Caballero explains how cannabis could be legalised ("Legalize it !", L'esprit frappeur, 10 euros). The candidates could refer to it, to foster a debate. But who wants to go down that road? Not many people. Except Eva Joly, who carries on running, alone, behind the leading pack.

by Michel Henry (“Politics is a combat sport. During the campaign, Michel Henry has turned himself into a personal trainer to coach the candidates for the presidential election.”)

Translation: Jérémy Delhaye and Antoine Gervais

Editing: Sam Trainor


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