Economics serving society

P-Y. Geoffard - Cannabis: How to take back control? (June 2019)

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Emmanuelle Auriol (TSE/University Toulouse Capitole 1) and Pierre-Yves Geoffard (PSE/CNRS) published a report for the Council for Economic Analysis (CAE), entitled:

«Cannabis: how to take back control ?»

  • Access the report directly from the CAE web site: “Cannabis: how to take back control?”
  • References: Emmanuelle Auriol and Pierre-Yves Geoffard, “Cannabis: how to take back control?”, Les notes du conseil d’analyse économique, n° 52, June 2019.

"Despite having some of the most repressive policies in Europe, the French, especially French minors, are among the biggest consumers of cannabis in the European Union. The prohibition regime in place in France for 50 years is a failure: not only is it unable to protect the most vulnerable, particularly young people, but it is also a very costly policy that benefits criminal organisations. In this “Note” for the CAE, we investigate the reforms that should be implemented if we are to regain control of this market. Economic analysis, together with a study of recent experiences abroad, show that the legalisation of recreational cannabis use, strictly controlled, can mount an effective fight against organised crime, restrict access to the product by minors, and develop a new economic sector, thus generating jobs and tax revenue.
Overseas experiences show that if these various objectives are to be achieved, it is essential first to prioritise them, and then to determine the concrete modalities of future regulations according to this prioritisation. We recommend that the two priority objectives of the legalisation be the protection of minors and the eradication of drug trafficking. In order to accomplish these goals, we recommend the establishment of a monopoly on the production and distribution of cannabis, under the aegis of an independent regulatory authority. Centralised management will provide an efficient framework for this market and, together with improvements to the statistical tools essential to monitoring changes in consumption and developing the sector, will predict possible abuses.
In accordance with the two objectives, some of the new tax income generated by the industry, of which the Note makes an estimation, should be used to protect minors and to eradicate organised crime in the sector. First, the product must be of guaranteed quality and in sufficient quantity, to be achieved initially through paying a price to producers that is high enough to ensure the sector’s development, while keeping consumer prices low enough to dry up the illegal market. At the same time, we stress the importance of transferring sufficient police power to the fight against major traffickers and the enforcement of the prohibition on sale to minors of not only cannabis but also alcohol and tobacco. Prices can be reviewed upwards once the illegal market has been eradicated. Second, we recommend the strengthening of policies of prevention, and very early education both in primary and high schools and for families and care workers. Finally, we recommend that some of the tax revenues earned from legal cannabis trading be dedicated to urban development and education programmes in drug-trafficking areas."

Source: summary of CAE Note n°52

Press reviews
Following the validation of a medical cannabis experiment by the Agency for Medicinal Products of 28 June, followed by a colloquium on “Hemp and Wellbeing” at the National Assembly, this report was widely taken up by the media.