Parisians queue for cannabis as drug laws relaxed
Paris's first "coffee shops" selling legal cannabis have attracted long queues of customers eager to try a low-strength version of the drug now permitted under French law.
Two shops opened last week following a softening of restrictions to allow the sale of cannabis containing less than 0.2pc of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main intoxicant.
The shops' owners insist their hemp products will not induce the "high" craved by drug users and are purely for those who like the taste and aroma. Although the cannabis has very little THC, it does contain a relaxant.
Joaquim Lousquy (29), the owner of Cofyshop in the 11th arrondissement, said: "There's no psychotropic effect. It isn't a medicine or a relaxant. I wouldn't advise anyone to smoke cannabis. We sell it just like a furniture shop sells chairs."
The product, imported from Switzerland, is labelled "Do not smoke" but the message had clearly failed to get through to some.
Maxine (35), an advertising copywriter, said she was buying cannabis for her aunt. "She has arthritis and this is a natural therapy she can use to try to alleviate the pain, but yes, I'll try it myself too, of course, more out of curiosity than anything else."
Cofyshop sells its low-strength CBD version of cannabis for €11-€13 per gramme, as well as syrup, massage oil and a preparation to make tea.
Pacome Rupin, an MP for Emmanuel Macron's La Republique en Marche party, visited the shop last week and said the authorities were "closely watching" its activities. Advocates of CBD products claim they alleviate anxiety and pain.
The French Health Authority has ruled "no therapeutic benefit may be claimed by the makers or vendors or any product containing CBD".
Dan Velea, a psychiatrist specialising in addiction, told the news website 20 Minutes there was a risk that "CBD will act as a 'gateway' product for new users" who may progress to illegal, high-strength cannabis. (© Daily Telegraph, London)