Cannabis legalisation has been making the headlines in France since early summer. To name just a few examples, François Michel-Lambert, MP of the green party UDE, has submitted a bill to the National Assembly proposing to legalise cannabis through a production, sale and consumption framework controlled by a new organisation which would be named SECA (Société d'exploitation du cannabis); the French Agency for the Safety of Health Products (ANSM) has announced plans to implement a pilot plan for the introduction of medical cannabis in collaboration with the Department of Health, and outstanding figures from the world of politics, economics and healthcare, who form the Council of Economic Analysis (CAE) of the Prime Minister, have signed a manifesto – published in the weekly L'Obs – calling for the legalisation of the plant.
Sole binding move: Yes to medical cannabis in France, but on an experimental basis
Last September, the French Agency for the Safety of Health Products (ANSM) appointed a temporary expert committee (CSST) charged with examining the therapeutic value of cannabis, as well as with assessing the need, or otherwise, to legalise its medical use. Almost a year later, the ANSM has resolved to follow the CSST's recommendation to facilitate access to medical cannabis to certain patients, undertaking to collaborate with relevant bodies in the establishment of an experimental framework allowing its distribution in the country.
The CSST, created to advise the ANSM on medical cannabis, has reviewed the pros and cons of treating specific patient groups with cannabis several times, reporting the conclusions to the ANSM on three occasions. During their meetings, professionals from the world of pharmacology, neurology, oncology and pain management, amongst others, laid out the pros and cons of using cannabinoids in certain treatments, which were then translated into a report for presentation to the ANSM, always with favourable conclusions. Until this July, the ANSM had limited itself to take notice of the recommendations, without any changes to the scenario. Now, however, it seems determined to implement a pilot framework for the introduction of medical cannabis in France.
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