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France legalizes medical cannabis trial period

On October 25, the National Assembly of France legalizes medical cannabis for a trial period of two years. 17 countries in Europe legalized medical cannabis

The debate in France has lasted for several years. But on October 25 , the National Assembly of France legalizes medical cannabis for a trial period of two years. “ I very much hope that this experiment can begin in the first half of 2020, ” said Secretary of State Christelle Dubos.

The research company Prohibition Partners, predicts a market size of €9.5 billion for the French medical cannabis market in 2028.

It will cover 3,000 patients in France and will try to test the positive impact of cannabis derivatives on certain diseases the MP, behind this amendment, Olivier Véran, said. He recalled that “17 countries of the European Union have already authorized medical cannabis treatments” .

“We are particularly pleased with this news”

This experiment will involve people suffering from serious illnesses. Those include patients displaying forms of epilepsy, neuropathic pain, side effects of chemotherapy, palliative care or multiple sclerosis. For those, cannabis derivatives may constitute a therapeutic contribution.

” We are particularly pleased with this news, we will be able to really work with patients knowing that we are supported by the government “, rejoices with, Mado Gilanton, president of Collectif Espoir patient and representative of Rare Disease Alliance within the ANSM Scientific Committee.

” This is important for patients who have severe neuropathic pain that is refractory to any treatment. With medical cannabis, there’s small risk of addiction, unlike if one turns to opioid medications, the president adds.

3000 patients participate in the experiment

The trial period applies to several hospitals, and particularly to reference centers for the pathologies concerned. An initial hospital prescription will require a specialist doctor, neurologist or pain doctor for the trial period.

” The goal is now to ensure that the device is implemented in a harmonious way throughout the territory. Three thousand patients participate in the experiment. We hope that it will, within two years, regulate the use of therapeutic cannabis within a specific framework  , ” commented Mado Gilanton. The experiment took place before France legalizes medical cannabis.

Patients will have to attend to hospital pharmacies and then will be able to renew their treatments in town pharmacies.

The drug agency decided in favor of rather wide administration modalities. Thus the treatment could take place in the form of dried flowers, oils and possibly herbal teas.

The supply of medical cannabis

The different dosages may show very variable relationships between the two active ingredients: the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD) which leads rather to muscle relaxation.

Especially the hemicycle welcomes the measure. ” We must ignore the criticisms that are made around this proposal since a group of experts had validated the principle ” of an experiment, said the MP LR Jean-Pierre Door.

” However this raises the question of the supply chain, France does not allow the production of cannabis, ” said the communist Pierre Dharreville.

But Mado Gilanton also shares concerns. “The experiment will use products from abroad because the cannabis culture in France is not allowed. We hope that the time of the experiment will allow the agricultural sector to have the operating licenses in France in order to be able to organize for the post experimentation.  “

And the jurisdiction?

The general principle of the jurisdiction on narcotic drugs is the prohibition of their use. “The illicit use of one of the substances or plants classified as narcotic is punishable by one year’s imprisonment and a 3,750 euro fine .” (according to the Code of Public Health)

However, after France legalizes medical cannabis, the law allows prosecutors not to ” prosecute” the user and to choose to implement “alternative measures to prosecution ” as reminders to the law. Still there is a fine for narcotic use, by a fixed amount of 200€.

Regarding medical use, since a decree in 2013 some cannabis-based medicines and derivatives may be subject to the marketing authorization. 

Two drugs obtained a marketing authorization. One, for multiple sclerosis, didn’t enter the market, due to a lack of agreement on the price. The other, indicated in epilepsies and available on temporary authorization since December 2018, still needs the advice of competition authorities.

After the trial, it will be up to the government to decide on a generalization of medical cannabis. There is no need for a new amendment, but rather a simple regulatory change, according to Olivier Véran.

Abroad, in a foreign country

Cannabis for medical use is already legal in some 30 countries, as France legalizes medical cannabis on a trial period. Precursors were Canada, the Netherlands and Israel. 

Since 2001, Canadian patients suffering from serious/incurable diseases, such as AIDS and cancer, can obtain a license to smoke marijuana.

In the Netherlands, people with serious diseases can buy cannabis in pharmacies on approval of the prescription.

Since 2006, doctors in Israel prescribe medical cannabis in controlled doses to patients with cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder or degenerative diseases. 

Within the United States, 33 states use medical cannabis. Further it’s legal in six Latin American countries and 21 of 28 countries of the EU allow it at different levels.

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