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The French capital is crisscrossed by wide boulevards lined with quaint, terraced cafes, usually serving nothing stronger than caffeine. However, for the first time in history, Paris’ boulevards are now welcoming coffeeshops selling legal marijuana and the locals just can’t get enough.
There are two new ‘coffeeshops’ in Paris, which specialise in selling a legal form of cannabis. The first is Cofyshop and can be found in the trendy 11th arrondissement. With its streets bursting with colour and vibrancy at the hands of some of Paris’ most talented graffiti artists, this neighbourhood is the perfect spot to unwind while soaking up the bohemian vibes.
While the first shop is more central, the second shop that sells cannabis in the French capital is E-Klop in Puteaux, a suburb to the west of Paris. After E-Klop and Cofyshop, there’s only a handful of other places selling legal marijuana in France. These include places in the northern city of Lille, the southern city of Montpellier and Besançon near the border to Switzerland.
There might only be a handful of these places in France, but it’s only a matter of time before more start popping up, given their overwhelming popularity so far.
Cofyshop opened its doors on June 5, 2018, and it hasn’t been empty since. In fact, the shop had to close twice in one week because it was out of stock and the owners have had to hire two security guards to deal with the crowds.
While the queues are quietening down slightly now that it has been open for a couple of weeks, the weekends have been the most popular. At its peak, Cofyshop has attracted as many as 500 people braving a waiting time of two hours or more, according to reports in the French press.
The products on sale are cannabidiol-based (CBD), which is a low-strength version of cannabis. It is believed by some in the scientific community that cannabidiol offers anti-inflammatory properties that can help people suffering from various diseases, such as cancer. It is also said to help calm people who are highly anxious or stressed, just without the ‘high’ or ‘stoned’ feeling of cannabis.
At Cofyshop, the capital’s most central venue selling legal marijuana, you can buy grass or hashish by weight imported from Switzerland. There’s a minimum spend of 30€ for 2.3 grams.
The product is labelled ‘do not smoke’, as the shop owner insists their sale is solely for those who enjoy the taste and aroma. However, not everyone has been respecting the label.
There’s also a range of massage oils, syrups and herbal teas to be added to boiling water on offer.
There has been a recent softening of restrictions in France to allow the sale of cannabis containing less than 0.2% of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). There are over 113 drugs in cannabis that contribute to altering the brain, but THC is the main psychoactive component with the most powerful effects.
For this reason, any product that exceeds 0.2% is still illegal under French law and people are still subject to large fines if caught in possession of the drug. Most dealers sell their cannabis with around 10-15% of THC and so 0.2% is quite low in comparison.
Joaquim Lousquy, the owner of Cofyshop, has said, as reported in The Telegraph: ‘There’s no psychotropic effect. It isn’t a medicine or a relaxant. I wouldn’t advise anyone to smoke cannabis. We sell it like any other item, just like a furniture shop sells tables or chairs’.
While the owner might be downplaying the significance of this product for sale in Paris for the first time, comparing it to a simple table or chair in a furniture shop, the sense of excitement he’s sparked across the French capital suggests otherwise.