French freedom-fighter Jean Pierre Galland has been pushing the baggie in Paris for many years. During the 1980’s he wrote a pro-pot book called Fum?e Clandestines (Clandestine Smoke), and in 1990 he formed the Collectif d’Information et de Recherche Cannabique (CIRC – Collective for Information and Research into Cannabis).
CIRC started off handing out leaflets and brochures, but soon evolved to giving out joints at rallies, and distributing poor quality hash to the media, with press releases complaining about how bad French hash was and how it was bad for their health.
These activities got them into the media spotlight, and the CIRC started getting phone calls from media who considered them a source of pro-cannabis information. Yet France’s pot-prohibition laws include promoting marijuana in any way, and so soon Galland was facing charges.
In an interview with Cannabis Culture, Galland explained why he was charged in 1995. “I was given a suspended 6-month prison sentence and fined $5000US for ‘positive presentation’ of cannabis on the CIRC’s minitel site [minitel is a French ancestor of the web].”
Since 1993, Galland and others have been putting on the “18 Joint”. (In french, “joint” sounds like “June”.) Galland explains the reason for the date: “On the 18th of June 1940, from London, General de Gaulle urged the French to resist the German occupation. The ’18 Joint’ was first launched in 1976 by Liberation, a French daily newspaper. The original text pleaded for the legalization of home-growing and for leaving smokers in peace. We revamped it and called for June 18 of 1993, in a Parisian park.”
Although the rally is popular and reached over 3000 attendance this year, Paris cops are not fans of the event. “Since 1995, it’s been forbidden every time in advance by the police. Despite this ban, it takes place, and every year I’ve been taken to the court. Now I owe them $35,000US and I’ve got a global suspended prison sentence of several months. Yet each time we are sued the French Justices make a fool of themselves, and they give the CIRC an opportunity to speak loud. In a way, these trials are terrible because they are ruining me, but in another way, they are always another step towards freedom. It is in a court that legalization might some day happen.”
In 1996, Galland arranged to have every member of France’s parliament sent a joint, along with a leaflet explaining cannabis’ benefits and why it should be decriminalized. “It was to incite them to open debate and to re-think the 1970 law which punishes usage, and prohibits speaking in ‘favourable terms’ of banned drugs,” explains Galland.
Galland also ran as the Green Party candidate for the European elections, featured on posters showing him surrounded by big buds. They received 10% of the vote. “Many people thought the drugs issue would harm them,” comments Galland, “but they did better than ever!”
Galland slyly hints at his future intentions. “After all our actions, what can we do to open the debate? We now have to open a canna-bistro, but this is still a secret…”
CC raises a spliff in tribute to JP Galland, fighting for pot-freedom in the heart of hostile territory!