France to fight cannabis use with spot fines

PARIS (Reuters) – Cannabis users will soon face on-the-spot fines in France, where teenage use of the drug is among the highest in Europe, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Thursday.

Collomb said legislation would be presented to parliament in the coming weeks, honoring an election campaign pledge by President Emmanuel Macron who says spot fines should be used to deter petty crimes that often end up unpunished in overloaded courts.

The number of 15- and 16-year-olds who admitted recent use of cannabis was higher in France than any other European country in a 2015 survey published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug addiction, an EU agency.

“The flat-rate fines will not take away from the fact that it is a criminal offense,” Collomb told Europe 1 radio.

Police would soon be equipped with mobile phone and tablet computer technology that made it simple to impose immediate fines, Collomb said.

He did not say how big fines would be but a report requested by Macron’s government suggested 150 to 200 euros ($186-248).

Reporting By Brian Love; editing by Richard Lough

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