Several weed-selling coffee shops have been opening in Paris, France’s capital city, under the radar for a few months. French authorities opened an investigation into whether one of them is operating within the confines of the law. The law has a gaping grey area that these new pot-selling cafes have been taking advantage of most enthusiastically, which is the lack of classification for hemp-derived cannabidiol.
The products that these shops sell can only contain 0.02 percent THC, which means that they do not have any effect on the mind. They cannot make users stoned, unlike traditional marijuana widely available on the black market. Most cannot see the fuss, but officials from the prosecutor’s office have a different opinion.
According to a legal source, who spoke at length with Le Parisien, the prosecutor’s office charged drug investigators with the job of conducting a preliminary investigation to “verify whether the legal conditions of sale of certain forms of cannabis are being respected” by Cofyshop, the first store of its kind to open its doors within the French capital.
Situated in the trendy 11th arrondissement, Cofyshop sells weed per gram for between €11.50 and €13. It also sells a variety of massage oils and teas. The little store was so popular that people were queuing down the street, and Joaquim Lousquy, the shop’s owner, had to employ two security guards just to handle the staggering number of customers.
In fact, according to reports, the café, which only opened its doors on June 5, had to close its doors several times because it ran out of stock. Previously, Lousquy told Le Parisien that the difference between real marijuana and his product was difficult to tell. He said, “Our grass does indeed have the same smell and the same appearance as THC products. The police cannot tell the difference.”
Cofyshop has inspired similar businesses to open elsewhere in the French capital, including one called E-Klop, located in Puteaux, a suburb in west Paris, and another in the 2nd arrondissement. However, the Ministry of Health soon addressed this legal grey area, with Agnès Buzyn, France’s Minister of Health, stating that the shops will likely be “closed in a few months.”
In speaking with RTL, Buzyn said, “We will have to review the legislation and review how we put this all in order. It is true that the 0.2 percent legislation is perhaps a little vague.” This news will disappoint the store’s many, many fans. Last week, while queuing outside the store, Julie, who works in fashion, had a discussion with The Local.
“I am a regular cannabis smoker and this is a chance to try what is legally available,” she said. “I usually buy from a regular dealer illegally because France does not give people a choice. In other countries, it is no problem to smoke weed, but in France, it is taboo.” In spite of jars labelled with “Do not smoke” signs throughout the store, Julie admits that she, like everyone else, intended to smoke what she purchased.
Fabrice, an academic in Paris, was another person brave enough to stand in the long queue. He claimed that he was there solely out of “curiosity.” In an interview with The Local, he said, “It is the first shop like it in Paris, and I want to see what it sells and try out the legal version of cannabis.” Since Buzyn pledged to close the loophole these cafés are exploiting, the government plans to shut them all down.