France officially takes the first step towards medical marijuana legalization

Published Mar 7, 2019 10:04 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File

France contains the seventh biggest economy in the world, legalizing marijuana for medical use could be beneficial for both medical patients as well the global pot industry. They could authorize cannabis use through a permit system like the ones found across Canada and the United States. With France boasting a higher GDP than both the UK and Germany it holds a significant population that is expected to provide a bustling lucrative market that would help to expand the worldwide market. With neighbors like Luxembourg and Germany who have both established regulations in support of cannabis for medicinal use, it was almost expected to see this change in the near future.

Is marijuana legal in France?

While it isn’t yet legal, the framework for new regulation is slowly taking shape. Towards the middle of 2018, the ANSM (French Agency for Drug Safety) put together a committee consisting of doctors, scientists and researchers to assess the effectiveness of using medical marijuana as an anti-inflammatory and for pain relief. Their findings were made public in a statement that concluded the medicinal use of cannabis has shown to be beneficial for anyone receiving insufficient relief from their current medications. This includes those suffering from chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and patients in palliative care settings should be offered the drug either in addition to regular medication or as an alternative.

In October of 2018 the CCST (Temporary Specialized Scientific Committee was put in place which includes thirteen different health care experts and will run for one year to further investigate the legitimacy of the claims made by the ANSM. For one full year, they will follow up with selected patients on the efficiency of medical marijuana. The difference thus far between medical cannabis in France and medical products offered across the globe is that in France the focus appears to be more on concentrates while avoiding smoking the dry herb in its natural state.

France and marijuana

For now, cannabis use in France is not legal at all for recreational or medicinal use, but despite that, it remains one of the most popular drugs of choice in the country. The country is one signatory of the Geneva Convention and completely banned medical cannabis in 1953. It remained illegal until 1999 when the AFSSPS (Agence Francaise de Securite Sanitaire) handed out temporary use authorization slips for marijuana products. In June of 2013, France began to allow the manufacturing of cannabis products for medical use but only when prescribed by a physician with the caveat that only those who could not obtain sufficient relief and were terminally ill could have access. The change didn’t help many residents with such strict qualifications however it did make it easier for those who wanted to research marijuana and cannabinoids to apply for permission to do so.

When to expect medical cannabis in France

These new exciting changes to regulations are only one of several first stepping stones leading to full medical marijuana legalization. Those who are interested in the opportunity to be a part of the newest trail can apply to their family doctor. Unfortunately, it appears spots will be limited so many residents will have to wait patiently for their turn for legal access. It is a long slow process, and we likely won't be seeing full legations of cannabis for medical or recreational use until at least 2019-2020.

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