A trial programme authorising the use of therapeutic cannabis in France has been given an additional year, giving relief to upwards of 3,000 patients suffering with conditions that traditional medicine hasn’t been able to fix.
Cannabis for therapeutic and treatment purposes has become largely accepted by the medical community as well as governments around the world. France is no exception, and since a law authorising its use as part of an experimental programme was launched in October 2020, it has been a lifesaver for patients suffering from a variety of illnesses who have found no relief from other types of medicines.
The trial was set to end on 25th March of this year, but has been extended until 2024, giving doctors, researchers and pharmacists more time to study the effects, benefits and drawbacks of usage. So far, the data has been overwhelmingly positive.
TIGHT CONTROLS FOR SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
Prescriptions for medical marijuana are not handed out on the whim. They are only given “in the event of insufficient relief or poor tolerance of accessible therapies, whether medicinal or not”, reads the French government’s public service website. Prescriptions are not available to all doctors either, just those involved in the programme.
Furthermore, doctors can only prescribe cannabis in certain situations, such as if the person has drug-resistant epilepsy, painful spasticity stemming from multiple sclerosis or other central nervous system disorders, refractory neuropathic pain, certain symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatments, and as palliative pain relief.
This is exasperating for patients who would like, but are unable to qualify for the experiment, and who must endure pain whilst they are given other pain medications that have no effect. It is only as a last resort that cannabis is offered, and many would like to see this change.
Additionally, there are somewhere between 700,000 and two million patients who could qualify based on the approved conditions, but aren’t given the option.
A NEW INDUSTRY?
Growing marijuana is a whole other business, with it being exclusive to establishments authorised by the French Health Agency (ANSM) to manufacture, import and distribute active substances, including, since 1st March 2022, the growing and production of the drug. Even then, the red tape is pretty strict, with guidelines being specific and narrow.
This may change soon as the Ministry of Health is finalising a decree that may mean France could see the start of a cannabis industry sprouting up. The easing of administrative hassles could open the door to budding entrepreneurs looking to cultivate the plant in a legal way and thus making it more accessible to more patients.
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