Queues have been lined up outside a brand-new Paris “coffee shop” since it opened June 5, but customers aren’t interested in receiving a caffeine boost. Instead, Cofyshop, a café situated in Paris’ trendy 11th arrondissement, sells its patrons low-grade cannabis. The catch: The shop owner doesn’t expect or advise people to smoke the product.
The store, among the first of its kind in France, comes after a softening of the country’s notoriously stringent drug laws. It’s now legally permissible to sell marijuana that contains less than 0.2 percent THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in the plant. However, the strains Cofyshop sells are rich in cannabinoids, which contain many of the medicinal benefits found in cannabis.
Joaquim Lousquy, the owner of Cofyshop, imports the cannabis from Switzerland, but don’t mistake him for a cannabis activist or crusader. He labels the product with “Do Not Smoke” warnings and simply “recognized a good deal” in selling the product, according to The Telegraph.
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“There’s no psychotropic effect. It isn’t a medicine or a relaxant,” Lousquy told The Telegraph. “I wouldn’t advise anyone to smoke cannabis. We sell it like any other item, just like a furniture shop sells tables or chairs.”
That message has fallen upon deaf ears. Customers waiting outside Cofyshop and E-Klop, a similar store in a west Paris suburb, have much different intentions.
“I want to find out if the stuff they’re selling gets you stoned. In theory, it has less than 0.2 percent THC, but I’ve heard it contains more CBD [cannabidiol, a legal cannabinoid] and that should have an effect, at least to make you feel relaxed,” one 21-year-old customer told The Telegraph.
Another customer, a 30-year-old fashion worker, told The Local:
I’m a regular cannabis smoker and this is a chance to try what is legally available … I usually buy from a regular dealer illegally because France doesn’t give people a choice. In other countries it’s no problem to smoke weed but in France it’s a taboo.
An interesting note on Cofyshop owner Lousquy: This isn’t his first controversial entrepreneurial venture. Earlier this year he opened XDolls, France’s first sex doll brothel, after new laws made paying for sex illegal.
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Not all are pleased with the new “coffee shops” in the Paris streets. One of the shop’s neighbors, a 72-year-old woman named Marlene, complained to Le Parisen, saying, “[It] smells of hashish in the street and it wafts up to our flat.”