Possession and Trafficking
"Use or possession of illegal drugs is a criminal offence in France. The law itself does not distinguish between possession for personal use or for trafficking, nor by type of substance. However, the prosecutor will opt for a charge relating to use or traffic that is based on the quantity of the drug found and the context of the case. An offender charged with personal use faces a maximum prison sentence of one year and a fine of up to EUR 3,750, though prosecution may be waived. Alternatives to prosecution may include voluntary payment of a fine or non-remunerated work useful to society. Prosecutors may also prioritise treatment approaches for small-time offenders, both those related to personal drug use or other minor crimes. A circular to prosecutors in 2005 stated that any legal action before the magistrates courts must remain exceptional, but a new circular of 9 May 2008 defined a new ‘rapid and graduated’ policy. Addicts would continue to receive the therapeutic injunction, directing them to treatment. Users in aggravating circumstances, such as drivers or those in educational establishments, as well as recidivists, might be imprisoned. Users in simple cases may receive a caution, but this should usually be accompanied by a request for a compulsory drug awareness course introduced in March 2007, for which the non-addicted offender may have to pay up to EUR 450.
"Drug trafficking is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years, or up to life in prison in case of particularly serious offences, and a fine of up to EUR 7,600,000."
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction, Country Overview: France (Lisbon, Portugal: October 2012), last accessed Dec. 15, 2012.