Laissez-faire? Non! France seeks to stub out ‘e-joints’ on launch day
France’s health minister Marisol Touraine said she will appeal to the courts to ban the new ‘e-joint’ – an electronic cigarette containing cannabinoids – despite the fact that it does not contravene any existing laws.
“It will incite the consumption of cannabis,” the Socialist minister told RTL radio.
"I am opposed to such a product being commercialized in France."
The news will come as an unpleasant shock for the Czech company that makes KanaVape, a product it launched on Tuesday, which it insists is absolutely legal.
Instead of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, it contains cannabidiol, an ingredient that lessens anxiety and relieves pain, which is already a component of medications licensed in France, such as Sativex, and is not illegal in any form.
“We chose to focus on the medical aspect and we do not promote the recreational use of cannabis. We don't break the law so we don't have any problems with it,” Antonin Cohen, one of the founders of KanaVape told Vice.
— Routeur News (@RouteurNews) December 16, 2014
“We have developed a network of doctors and experts from all around the world working on the use of cannabinoids in medicine—that gives us a certain legitimacy.”
— Rob McDowall (@robmcd85) December 16, 2014
The firm is already growing some of the hemp it uses for the oil inside the ‘e-joint’ in France, without any objections from the authorities.
But Touraine’s statement may be a part of her wider war on electronic smoking devices.
Despite a reputation as a nation of heavy smokers, just over a quarter of French people smoke, which is about average for Europe, and the numbers have been declining steadily. But, as more have quit traditional cigarettes, more ‘vapers’ have appeared. Almost one in five French adults, nearly ten million people, have tried them at least once, according to the French Observatory for Drugs and Addiction (OFDT), and between one and two million ‘vape’ every day.
A photo posted by Valentin Squirelo (@squirelo) on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:09am PST
Touraine has pushed legislation that has banned them in various public places, including public transport and enclosed workspaces, despite the fact that the vapor exhaled by smokers of electronic devices contains significantly fewer harmful chemicals than tobacco smoke.
Touraine has justified her drive by saying that ‘vape pens’ are a gateway drug to smoking cigarettes, and set a poor example for children in a country where 70,000 people die annually of tobacco-related diseases.
In this context, the proliferation of KanaVape - whether or not it gets its users stoned - is an additional obstacle to a smoke-free France.