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France to Launch Medical Cannabis Pilot Scheme

France to Launch Medical Cannabis Pilot Scheme

The French Minister of Solidarity and Health has officially signed a decree to launch a medical cannabis pilot scheme in France. The pilot programme will supply patients with free medical cannabis.

The programme was initially scheduled to launch in 2020, but the Coronavirus pandemic has delayed the start date of the medical cannabis pilot programme. The launch will now take place in early 2021 and the Ministry and the French Medicines Agency (ANSM) have officially announced their intention to initiate the pilot scheme. 

The programme is going to run for approximately 6 months, and it will involve 3,000 patients. The patients that will take part in the experiment will be sufferers of conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

The regulations are now in place and the application requirements for companies and organisations were published in October of 2020. The next step for the French medical cannabis pilot programme is to select the medical cannabis suppliers who will supply the cannabis-based medications for the pilot scheme. Those interested in participating in the programme must apply before the 24th of November 2020.

The decree does not guarantee the suppliers selected for the pilot programme will receive and preferential treatment if and when medical cannabis is legalised in France. The medical cannabis suppliers who supply the medication for the scheme will not be guaranteed that their products will be legally allowed for sale in France. The suppliers are going to be evaluated by a points system. 

It is thought that the first prescription pertaining to the French medical cannabis pilot programme will be prescribed at the end of Q1 2021.

Certain symptoms linked to cancer, spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis, refractory neuropathic pain, drug resistant epilepsy and chronic pain conditions will all be eligible for the programme.

The Ministry has suggested that the cannabis-based medicines will be prescribed in the form of dried cannabis flowers and oils.

The French authorities remain sceptical when it comes to cannabis’ presumed medicinal effects and currently, cannabis can only be consumed with a prescription by health professionals and doctors. The National Medical Safety Agency (NMSA) must approve all products that will be available on prescription. If the pilot programme proves to be a success, it is likely to lead to a relaxation of the current legislation surrounding cannabis in France.

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