Marijuana Politics Hits French Presidential Race -- Jospin Plays It Both Ways 3/29/02

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


With French presidential elections looming in May, the politics of cannabis has made its way into the campaign. Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on Tuesday caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth among French conservatives when he remarked that smoking a joint at home was less dangerous than drinking and driving. The rightists' ire was not lessened despite the fact that Jospin quickly added that he would oppose any change in French cannabis laws, which, on paper at least, are among the most draconian in Europe.

"Smoking a joint at home is certainly less dangerous than drinking and driving," Jospin told Agence France-Presse in a fax interview. And, hinting at a more lenient approach to marijuana users, Jospin added that while he opposed decriminalizing cannabis, the drug laws should be applied "in an intelligent manner" toward cannabis users.

With Jospin locked in a neck-and-neck race with current President Jacques Chirac, of the conservative Rally for the Republic Party (RPR), Chirac backers jumped at the chance to criticize Jospin as soft on drugs.

"This is typical of the attitude of his government, whose ministers have sought time and time again to trivialize this issue," RPR deputy Bernard Accoyer told Reuters. "He clearly has no idea of the real damage caused by cannabis," argued Accoyer.

Jospin's foes also accuse him of pandering to pro-cannabis voters, a charge that may hold more weight. Some four million French are believed to be cannabis users. But with his remarks on the relative safety of cannabis balanced by his continuing refusal to countenance decriminalization, Jospin appears to be trying to pull a Bill Clinton on cannabis. He toked up the idea of a common sense approach to cannabis, but didn't inhale the argument that it should be decriminalized. Whether Jospin will win any cannabis votes with his "take both sides" position remains to be seen. Jospin danced a similar pirouette in 1997 after winning a parliamentary election. He suggested then that he would consider relaxing the cannabis laws, but backed off when the right squealed in protest.

Twelve candidates are running for president, but only Jospin and Chirac have a chance of winning. Two candidates, the Green Party's Noel Mamerer and Olivier Besancenot, a 27-year-old Trotskyite mailman, back the outright legalization of cannabis.

They were joined on Tuesday by Le Nouvel Observateur, a left-leaning political magazine, which said in an editorial that day that legalization of all drugs would be preferable to the status quo. "Instead of being run by gangsters, it would be in the hands of a few professionals," said the magazine.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #230, 3/29/02 Editorial: Supreme Disappointment | John W Perry Scholarship Fund for Students Losing Financial Aid Because of Drug Convictions Holds Initial Fundraiser in NYC | Supreme Court Upholds Zero Tolerance in Public Housing -- Officials Can Evict Families Over a Member's Drug Use | Justice Department Fights to Maintain Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparities | The November Coalition Critiques Sessions-Hatch Sentencing Bill | State Medical Marijuana Update: Maryland, Vermont and Connecticut | DC Federal Court Declares Ban on Medical Marijuana Ballot Measure Unconstitutional, Opens Way for New Initiative Effort | Vancouver Mayor Calls for Marijuana Legalization | Marijuana Politics Hits French Presidential Race -- Jospin Plays It Both Ways | DRCNet Files FOIA Request for Justice Department List of 52 Internet Drug Menace Web Sites | Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]