Jean-Francois Cope, leader of the opposition UMP party, had demanded a clarification from President Francois Hollande after Education Minister Vincent Peillon said he favored legalizing cannabis, Radio France Internationale reported.
Peillon said during a radio interview he would like to see a discussion about the possible legalization of marijuana. He said the results of using "repressive means" to fight drug trafficking "suggest that it's not very effective."
His comments drew criticism from a number of right-wing lawmakers. Christian Jacob, leader of the UMP in parliament, said Peillon's comments would "sap the authority of those working in schools."
Former higher education minister Valerie Pecresse asked in a tweet, "What kind of impact will that have on educational attainment?"
Peillon issued a statement Monday saying that his comments did not represent any change in drug policy by the government and that they were "his personal thoughts."