In terms of drug use, repression leads nowhere. On this point, public opinion agrees with professionals, who have been arguing for years for a change in approach, according to a survey published Thursday, January 21 by the Collective for a New Drug Policy (CNPD), which brings together 19 organizations. For two-thirds of those questioned, penalization, an untouchable dogma since the adoption of the law against the use of narcotics fifty years ago, is not effective in the fight against drug consumption. “This repressive policy has never been evaluated, and it has an indirect cost in terms of social divide, discrimination, mistrust of certain categories of the population, police violence and access to real citizenship” underlined, during the press conference organized on January 21, Jean Maxence Granier, of the Association of drug users (ASUD).
The criminalization of drug use is not effective against trafficking either, estimate 69% of respondents. “The repression has a very strong impact on the activity of the police and gendarmes. It implies a disproportionate commitment of the workforce ”, recalled Bénédicte Deforge, of the Police Collective Against Prohibition, also a member of the CNDP. Drug use alone accounts for more than 50% of offenses. Simple to carry out, the arrest of ordinary users, like the fixed fine recently introduced, only serves the policy of numbers, without having any impact on traffic, the dismantling of which is more than a long process. breath carried out by the judicial police. The policewoman, like a little more than half of the French, is in favor of an approach that is no longer centered on criminalization, “To bring the police back to their core business”. She even argues, with regard to Cannabis, for state-controlled legalization, which would allow a better focus on criminal networks.
Repression also poses a problem in terms of public health. The French are 73% to believe that the State does not put in place enough prevention campaign, and three-quarters of them consider that the risk reduction measures are insufficient. By putting in the same bag small occasional consumers, who control their consumption, and users at risk, the prima given to the penal sanction prevents the latter from being identified and from benefiting from appropriate assistance to get out of their addictions. “Criminal law subordinates public health action to repressive measures”, summarizes Catherine Delorme, of the Addiction Federation. A bit like with AIDS, advocating total abstinence with slogans like, “Drugs are shit”, does not allow for an appropriate and audible prevention discourse aimed at young people. Proof of this ineffectiveness, after decades of all repression, young French people remain the biggest consumers of drugs on the European continent.
Despite the accumulating expert reports and the evolution of public opinion reflected in the poll commissioned by the CNDP, the large majority of French politicians continue to advocate “The war on drugs”. While more than 1.5 million French people, many of whom are perfectly integrated, are regular consumers of Cannabis, the user remains in the caricatured public discourse, ” stuck up, in the words of Jean Maxence Granier, between the double figure of the delinquent and the patient ”. Decriminalization is a taboo that nothing seems to shake, not even the proliferation of countries, from the state of Oregon to Portugal, have chosen to change their approach to drug use. This omerta no longer convinces many people. On the right, Republican MP Robin Reda has just launched an internet consultation on the issue. Although hailed as a first step, this initiative is considered insufficient by the associations, who want to go further to get out of an ideological vision disconnected from the reality of drug use. A desire shared by the French, who are 82% in favor of opening a real debate on the issue.