France drugs: Prime Minister Castex will impose instant fines across the country


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Jean Castex (C) with the mayor of Nice, who has suffered drug-related violence for weeks

France will introduce on-site fines across the country for drug users, especially cannabis, from September.

The move comes amid concerns over drug-related violence and was announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex during a trip to Nice, which has seen weeks of unrest.

The deployment of fines follows tests in cities such as Rennes and Marseille.

The fixed fine of € 200 ($ 233; £ 182) will be reduced to € 150 if paid within 15 days. France is one of the leading consumers of cannabis in Europe.

Legislation on the recreational use of cannabis varies considerably from country to country. Several countries, like Canada, have legalized it while others have minor punishment policies. But many others impose severe prison sentences.

How will the system work?

France already has laws that allow up to one year in prison and fines of up to € 3,750 for illicit drug use, without specifically distinguishing between types of drugs.

But laws, dating from 1970, rarely lead to prison terms, with magistrates preferring alternative sentences, often warnings.

Although there is a reduction for early payment of fines in the new system, if an offender does not pay on time, it drops to € 450.

Mr Castex said the system would enter at the start of the start of the school year, the start of the school year after the summer vacation.

The fines were initially proposed in 2018 and were deployed in the form of tests in Rennes, Marseille, Lille, Créteil and Boissy-Saint-Léger.

Why is the system being introduced now?

This is part of the new prime minister’s plans to beef up security. He said he wanted “to end the violence in everyday life”.

He said the drug measure would simplify police procedures by “imposing sanctions without delay”.

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About sixty additional agents will come to the aid of Nice

Mr Castex added that he would target drug traffickers in their outlets, who are “eating up neighborhoods”.

He was speaking in the southern port city of Nice, which has witnessed the rise in drug-related violence, including in its neighborhood of Moulins, where shots were fired in broad daylight outside a supermarket this week .

As Mr Castex made his visit on Saturday, a young man was found dead of injuries in the town.

What other measures have been announced?

For Nice, Mr Castex said an additional 60 police would be deployed in the coming weeks.

There would also be extended powers for the police in the city, although these are detailed later, and the renovation of the main prison.

More generally, 150 jobs would be created elsewhere to target what he called “local criminal action and everyday delinquency”.

The death of a bus driver this month in Bayonne, attacked by passengers who allegedly refused to wear masks amid the coronavirus outbreak, has touched a particular nerve in France.

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