Weekly Cannabis Roundup March 5
France has been accused of falling behind in the cannabis race and has thus been urged to take action on medical cannabis before they’re left behind. In response, the French government announced that they will be carrying out a medical cannabis experiment which will involve distributing free medical cannabis.
The experiment consists of a two-year cycle where up to 3,000 patients will be treated with medical cannabis. The experiment will allow participating companies to import cannabis and the companies who wish to participate in the experiment will be obliged to give participants free medical cannabis which has to comply with the pharmaceutical standards and good manufacturing practice.
The experiment will only last two years long and is set to start with the first prescription in March 2021. Despite the fact that there are still months before the start of this experiment, Nicolas Authier (chair of the French Agency for Safety of Medicines and Health Products, or ANSM) stated that France is now officially committed to giving citizens access to medical cannabis.
The experiment will take place under the decree of the Ministry of Health and Solidarity, who will also be responsible for the execution of the experiment. In conjunction with the ANSM, the Ministry of Health and Solidarity will decide on the following:
In an interview with Marijuana Business Daily, Nicolas Authier explained that since cannabis with higher quantities of THC is illegal, most of the cannabis supplies will probably come from foreigners for the sake of the experiment. The ANSM plans to implement a patient registry which will be updated by doctors and pharmacies after getting consent from patients. They plan on using the registry in order to monitor the effects of medical cannabis. By doing this, they have the opportunity to assess previously unreported adverse effects, if any at all.
The experiment aims to allow only trained doctors to prescribe cannabis and that prescriptions be fulfilled at a hospital pharmacy. The experiment will not allow cannabis to be prescribed for smoking and will only allow for cannabis intended for ingestion or vaporizing. The qualifying conditions in this experiment include (1) chronic pain that is untreated by current therapies, (2) severe and refractory epilepsy, (3) supportive oncology care, (4) palliative care, and (5) multiple sclerosis spasticity.
In preparation for the implementation of prescribing cannabis, ANSM will put its energy into securing cannabis supply, organizing the training of doctors and pharmacists who will be prescribing and dispensing the cannabis as well as generating the register for monitoring patients
The experiment is planned, but the budget required to carry it out is still pending approval from the French parliament.
As with most of the European countries, France has indicated that cannabis will only be prescribed as a last resort. But what is the legal status of cannabis in France?
Cultivating, selling, and possessing cannabis intended for recreational use still remains illegal in France, despite being a popular recreational anecdote. In 2013, France legalized medication containing cannabis such as the well-known Sativex. This means that patients with prescriptions from a licensed physician may consume and possess cannabis. In 2017/18, president Emmanuel Macron saw to the reduction of the penalties for possessing cannabis (without a valid prescription), which was reduced from a criminal charge to a fine or warning.
It’s speculated that if this experimental program becomes permanent, France has the potential of becoming one of the biggest cannabis markets in the European Union. Going from being accused of falling behind to taking the reins, France has found itself amongst the first countries to implement such a large-scale experiment on medical cannabis in actual humans. Here’s to hoping that their experiment yields pleasing enough results to ignite interest in the medical properties of cannabis in other countries.
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