The lottery of France's laws on smoking cannabis


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Emmanuel is a 20-year-old student. One evening some police officers see him rolling a joint in public and intervene. It is the first time this has happened to him, and he has 10 grammes of cannabis in his pockets which, he explains, is for personal use. What penalty might he face? Under French law and practice there are many different outcomes. And since October 16th an extra possibility has been added to the arsenal already available under the law: the 'transaction pénale', a fixed penalty under which the offender pays an on-the-spot fine.