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Drugs in France - statistics & facts

The first supervised injection site in France opened in 2016: a hospital space where drug addicts can access clean equipment and syringes to manage their addictions. This was a small revolution in the French government’s approach to drug use. For several years, successive governments have been progressively abandoning the "zero tolerance" policy, the effectiveness of which is being questioned. For example, cannabis consumption is still strictly forbidden in France, but the French were still the biggest smokers in Europe in 2019.

Men more affected by drug use in France

Drug use is a phenomenon that especially affects men, who are more likely to experiment with all types of drugs. 14 percent of French men stated they consumed cannabis regularly, compared to five percent of women in 2021, and this gap also applies to "hard" drugs. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the youngest who consume the most, but 20-30-year-olds.

Drug use on the rise

Even while the French population was experiencing confinement due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, cannabis consumption has not decreased. On the contrary, only 16 percent stated to have taken advantage of the months spent at home to reduce their consumption, while 27 percent consumed more. An alarming constant that is caused not only by the psychological upheavals of a long-term confinement, drug consumption in France has been increasing for many years. The share of people using cocaine and new synthetic products like MDMA has increased over the last twenty years.

The fight against drugs in France

Still prohibited and penalized in France, the hunt for drug users rages on. While the majority of the French was in favor of depenalizing cannabis use, the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, wants to once more apply a "zero tolerance" policy towards consumers. In March 2021, the number of fines related to drug use reached its highest level since 2015. In terms of seizures, in 2019, French law enforcement agencies confiscated nearly 290,000 kilograms of cannabis and nine tons of cocaine in 2020.

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