Fifty years of penal response to drug use (1970-2020)



Tendances n° 144, OFDT, 12 p.
April 2021

In recent years (2016-2020), an average of 180 000 people have been arrested every year by law enforcement services (police and gendarmerie) for a drug law offence in France. The majority of these proceedings are related to drug use, a mass litigation that resulted in more than 130 000 arrests in 2020.

In the context of a resurgence of public debate on sanctions for cannabis users, this issue of Tendances takes stock of half a century of criminal policies targeting drug use. It shows the systematisation, acceleration and diversification of responses to drug use litigation since the 2000s. It also highlights the main developments in the penal treatment of drug users who are arrested, which is increasingly rapid and focused on financial sanctions to the detriment of health measures.

Author : Ivana Obradovic

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