France gives final go-ahead for medical cannabis testing programme

France gives final go-ahead for medical cannabis testing programme
A hemp plant growing in France. Photo: AFP
If the testing programme turns out to be a success, France could become the 23rd European country allowing medical use of cannabis.

For two years, 3,000 patients in France will be able too legally use cannabis as treatment for their illnesses.

Set to last for a period of two years, the testing programme “authorises experimentation with the therapeutic use of cannabis in a controlled and limited setting with patients suffering from serious illnesses,” according to the government's website.

While it had been in the books for a long time, experiment first got the green light when the government published a decree in the Journal Officiel last week.

The two-year testing period will start as soon as the first medical prescription is made. The final deadline for to begin the programme is March 31st 2021.

What kind of illnesses does it concern?

Only patients suffering from serious illnesses will be included in the programme.

Illnesses concerned are those for which regular treatments either are inefficient or not efficient enough, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain.

The drug will also be experimented to fight secondary effects of chemotherapy and as palliative care.

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France's ANSM medicines regulator outlined the groups of illnesses to reflect existing needs, and the goal is to see whether cannabis can be efficient where regular treatments are not.

Free of charge

The cannabis will be free of charge for the patients, covered by the businesses participating in the experiment.

The cannabis will be distributed in the form of pills, oils or dried flowers. Patients will not be allowed to smoke the cannabis.

Patient were informed about the possible side-effects of the drug.

Smoking still illegal

Smoking cannabis is still illegal in France, with a €200 fine if you get caught. 

The programme was voted through the French parliament in October 2019, and before that it had  already given the green light by France's ANSM medicines regulator.

Until now, only CBD cannabidiol, a cannabidoid found in cannabis, was allowed by the government. 


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