A French cabinet minister caused an immediate visceral reaction and political debate by suggesting that the drug war had failed and that cannabis should be legalized.

Leading politicians and even his own Socialist party turned their ire on Jean-Marie Le Guen, after he dared to point out the obvious fact that prohibition had not reduced the use of cannabis in the 45 years since it’s been illegal in France. However, Le Guen is not only a doctor, but a public health expert, and therefore far more qualified than most to comment on the matter. Le Guen thinks it would make sense to look into making it legal for adults over 21, a reasonable suggestion in a world where more medical and social benefits of cannabis are discovered almost on a daily basis.

Over a quarter of French people have tried cannabis, according to France 24, despite relatively draconian penalties of up to a year in prison and $4200 in fines. Over 700,000 French people are believed to smoke cannabis daily (remember, this is the country that invented Zig-Zag rolling papers). And among young people, France has the highest percentage of users of any First World nation, with an estimated 15% of 15-year-olds having tried it.

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