Fields of Green for All co-founder Myrtle Clarke was in Paris recently, teaming up with French members of parliament who are working on legalizing cannabis. This report from FGFA Hotbox producer and editorial contributor “Jo”.
Through fortuitous synchronicity, Myrtle was in Paris at the same time as the first “audition” of the French Members of Parliament Expert Working Group on Cannabis, hosted on 6 June 2023.
Our attendance was arranged by Farid Ghehioueche, the chairman of ENCOD (Europe) and Cannabis Sans Frontiers (France). We were also joined by Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, who made it just in time after taking a train from Toulouse in the south of France.
This event was a perfect example of our International projects at work. We thank our European ambassadors for always supporting South Africa!
Christophe Bex chaired the meeting. He is a Member of Parliament for the La France Insoumise (“France Unbowed”), a left-wing populist party representing the Haute-Garonne’s 7th constituency.
There were 12 people in the room, including interns and assistants to the attending MPs, as well as three MPs on Zoom.
The prohibition of Cannabis is still firmly in place in France. Msr Bex outlined the usual harms of prohibition, but placed particular emphasis on the challenges faced by law enforcement and the overcrowding of jails. There have been 3 bills and a report presented to the French Parliament, sadly without any success. Msr Bex continued, discussing the economic benefits for health, social conditions, and the economy.
Farid, Kenzi, and Myrtle were provided ample time to explain why it is vital that France takes developing countries into account when moving forward with the Cannabis issue.
France has a dismal record of colonial exploitation in Africa, something French citizens are acutely aware of. In order not to repeat the many wrongs of the past, Fields of Green for ALL made it very clear that French lawmakers should consider the wealth of knowledge contained within the worldwide Cannabis Legacy space, including that of their own country.
Knowledge is, of course, key and Msr Bex outlined how the continued stigma around Cannabis use, cultivation, and trade is absolutely clear in the opposition that he faces within the National Assembly. He further said that the working group needs to use facts around the history of prohibition to their advantage.
Myrtle presented the meeting with two copies of our Manifesto and a bunch of stickers. One copy was provisioned for the National Assembly Library – all in attendance said they were looking forward to reading how civil society has presented solutions in South Africa.
We are extremely honoured to have received this timely opportunity to enlighten the politicians in the room on the truth around Cannabis, and its continued prohibition in France and beyond.