[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]O[/dropcap]n May 28, the French Senate approved a two-year medical cannabis pilot program, which could become operational within “a few weeks.” To move forward, the plan must be approved by the health ministry.
“There will be about two years of experimentation with therapeutic cannabis, beginning as soon as the health ministry gives the green light,” Prof. Nicolas Authier, the head of pharmacology at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital Centre’s pain clinic, told FRANCE 24.
Authier heads a committee of experts that was commissioned by the National Agency for the Safety of Health Products to evaluate the practicalities of distributing medical cannabis. The committee’s report will be released on June 26.
“For the moment, medical cannabis production is not authorised in France,” added Authier. Furthermore, he continued, “[the crops] will be grown in closed fields or greenhouses and will require significant investment. We will have to control the temperature, humidity and sunshine. It isn’t conventional agriculture”.
Cannabis is smoked regularly by 11 percent of French people aged 18 to 64, according to the findings from the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Two years ago, France dropped prison terms for cannabis charges. Members of France’s Républicains party warned against the slippery slope of legalizing cannabis and how it leads to recreational cannabis, but progress remains strong.
According to MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out how leaders will control the supply chain. His district of La Creuse, for instance, could benefit if the government grants permits to locals to cultivation and produce medical cannabis. Moreau added that recreational cannabis isn’t off the table. “For now, we are talking about medical cannabis, but eventually we will have to consider wellness cannabis [oils, vitamins and supplements with very low levels of THC],” Moreau said. Beyond providing access to medical cannabis for thousands of patients throughout France, loosening cannabis laws would also provide a much-needed boost to the country’s economy.