Medical cannabis may come to France in two years after authorities recommended it for treating a limited set of health ailments and often only when they have exhausted other means of treatment.
After three months of study, a special committee linked to the National Agency for Drug Safety (ANSM) published its first conclusions on December 13, 2018.
This committee was created on September 10, 2018, to evaluate for one year the feasibility of making medical cannabis available in France. A panel of patient associations, patient representatives, and law and health experts was asked to present viewpoints on the subject.
France legalized the medical use of cannabis in 2013, but no drugs have reached pharmacies since then, leaving patients without any legal cannabinoid-based medicines. But the ANSM committee's decision opens the door to medical cannabis in plant form. Citing health risks, the committee excluded smoked cannabis as a medical therapy but allowed for other consumption methods, such as vaporization, infusions, capsules, and edibles.
The conclusions of the committee are only a preliminary step. The group of 13 health experts will pursue additional investigations for six-months to determine how medical cannabis will be prescribed, delivered, produced and covered by insurance.
The list of qualifying medical conditions is not confirmed, but the committee suggested that medical marijuana could be prescribed for:
- Refractory pain
- Some forms of severe and drug-resistant epilepsy
- Supportive care in oncology
- Palliative situations
- Painful spasticity of multiple sclerosis
In addition, the committee suggested establishing a national registry to evaluate the risks and the benefits of medical cannabis and to allow further research.
Nicolas Authier, chairman of the special committee, told the French Press Agency that it is unlikely that medical cannabis would be available before 2020, adding that many questions remain and laws may need to be amended to allow for therapeutic use of cannabis.
Today, about 30 countries worldwide authorize the medical use of cannabis, with 21 in Europe, 15 of which have access to dry flower.
Between 300,000 and 1 million French patients could benefit from medical cannabis, according to Le Parisien.