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."
Pregnant Mila Kunis wins 'Best Villain' at MTV Movie Awards
Pistorius testifies he didn't consciously pull trigger when he shot girlfriend