Cannabis consumption is a complex issue and is first and foremost a health matter. While it is forbidden in France for recreational or medical use, on October 25, 2019 the French Parliament (National Assembly) gave its consent to conduct an experimentation on medical use of cannabis starting in early 2020.
The French National Agency for Safety of the Medicinal products (ANSM) had already approved the initiative in July 2019, in addition to 17 others EU Member States.
The experimentation is scheduled to last two years, including a 6-month phase-in period, a 6-month inclusion period to enroll patients, a 6-month period for patients monitoring and a 6-month period of data analysis. A final report will then be established and released by a scientific committee.
Three thousand patients, for whom no further therapeutic options are available, are expected to be monitored in order to assess whether cannabis derivatives have a positive impact on five specific diseases and symptoms:
- Refractory neuropathic pains,
- Some form of severe pharmacoresistant epilepsy,
- Supportive care in palliative treatment in oncology,
- Painful spasticity in case of multiple sclerosis,
- Others Central nervous system pathologies.
The ANSM has opted for a broad administration of the medicinal treatment such as oils, dried flowers, infusions or pills. The inhalation therapy is not included.
The question of the supply chain remains, as France does not authorize the production of cannabis.
The experimentation will be conducted in several healthcare facilities, in particular those that are reference centers for the pathologies above mentioned. The patient will first have to seek supplies in hospital pharmacy and then refill their prescriptions in a local pharmacy.
Nowadays, there are only two medicines with these active ingredients available in France. However, their heavy prescription requirements make them unavailable.