Most used drugs
Cannabis remains the most consumed illegal drug in France . In 2010, 13.4 million French people aged between 11 and 75 had tried cannabis at least once in their lifetime; a third of them used it at least once during the year. Around 1.2 million of those are daily users of cannabis.
For all other drugs, estimations of usage are considerably lower. Cocaine consumption is ten times lower amongst the population than cannabis with 1.5 million French people having taken cocaine at least once in their lifetime. An estimated 1.1 million French people have taken ecstasy at least once, a figure that falls to 500,000 for heroine. Some 400,000 people admitted to having taken a drug other than cannabis in 2010, mostly cocaine and poppers.
In terms of gender, more men take illegal drugs than women. For example, four times as many men than women (aged 18 to 64) consume cannabis regularly (3.4% men compared to 0.9% women).
Another significant variable is age with, perhaps predictably, young people much more likely to experiment with illegal drugs. Statistics show that the rate of experimentation decreases with age and almost disappears after 55. . With the exception of cannabis, young people under 15 rarely try any other narcotic. Among 17-year-olds, cannabis remains the most popular experimental drug (41.5% of people aged 17 have tried it at least once) and regularly consumed drug (6.5% of 17-year-olds admit to frequent cannabis use). The average age at which young people try cannabis is 15.3 years old. .
Laws and policy
France has one of the most stringent anti-drugs policies in Europe. The present law dates back to 1970.
A drug user risks a one-year prison sentence and/or a fine of up to 3,750 euros for consuming drugs and may have to pay to participate in a compulsory awareness course about the dangers of narcotics.
Being caught in possession of drugs, even in small quantities, and manufacturing drugs (for example growing a marijuana plant at home) are considered by the legal system as being akin to drug usage and are therefore punishable offences.