On October 25, the French National Assembly finally gave the green light to a national experiment with medical cannabis. This has been in the offing for some time. As of now, the French government is finally willing to give the cannabis discussion a two-year trial. The Medicines Agency has already signed off.
Cannabis will be able to be prescribed for patients with treatment-resistant conditions including epilepsy, nerve pain, side effects of chemotherapy and for diseases of the central nervous system, including uncontrolled muscle contractions.
That said, the French are skipping the idea of “prescription joints” and will make oils and other ingestible basics (including drinkables) available via French doctors and through French pharmacies.
Prescribing doctors will have to complete an online training course, the details of which have not been released.
Will France Challenge Germany As Europe’s Most Lucrative Market?
Comparisons between France and other countries when it comes to cannabis are at this point premature. However, the French are certainly approaching the issue in a way that so far, even Germany has not.
Doctor training and certification, for example, are not centrally managed, administered, or even made available (no matter how many people are trying to set this up). However, Germany will be a producer within the next two years, unlike current plans in France. Unless and until French cultivation happens, French patients will be caught in the same conundrum as everyone else in Europe.
The idea of getting a prescription is very nice, but actually obtaining one, plus the approvals of health insurance to remove the burden of payment, is much, much harder than many people think.
In the short term look for more foreign-based businesses to get established in France, and further to see products entering the country from all points of the globe, starting with Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Poland.
There is a silver lining of course. Now that the two most powerful, economically intact economies in Europe are in the cannabis basket, it will drive other kinds of reform.
The idea of getting patients into an established program and out of the unregulated market is the ultimate goal, of course, however, it is a goal that is so far unreachable in an environment where medical cannabis is still expensive and far too hard to obtain.
So yes, vive la cannabis! But this is hardly the great green wave revolution most in France, if not in other places, have hoped and fought for. This is not the vision of the “industry” that most have sacrificed and worked for.