Could Medicinal Cannabis get the Go Ahead in France?

Liz Filmer
01 Apr 2024

During a year-long experiment that ended last week, French health authorities gave patients suffering from serious illnesses the chance to use prescribed medical cannabis. 

France began a nationwide experiment to test the use of medical cannabis for patients suffering from serious illnesses three years ago
The results of the trial started coming in two years later, in 2023. Patients felt that their symptoms had improved immensely, with no unforeseen side effects. So far there have been no reports of any substance abuse or addiction.
“Our evaluations show that between 30 and 40% of symptoms like pain, spasms, quality of life or epileptic seizures for example, have improved significantly,” Dr Nicolas Authier, Specialist in pharmacology, addiction and pain.

Plans to make all prescribed cannabis-based medicines more easier to get hold of, including the creation of pharmacies, are now in the planning phases for initialisation in 2025. At the moment Cannabis-based medicines are only available from hospitals and hospital pharmacies.    

The French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) has until the end of 2024 to permit approved cannabis-based products for medicinal use. Those products will then be given provisional approval for five years – with the capacity for them to be renewed indefinitely – pending a decision by European authorities to market the drugs.
Until that point, trial participants will still continue to be able to access the cannabis-based medicines that they need.
In total 3,035 people have taken part in the exceptional experiment and 1,842 of those are still receiving treatment today.

How Many People Could Benefit from Medicinal Cannabis in France?

Based on the five medical conditions that benefit from this type of treatment it is estimated that between 150,000 and 300,000 people in France could benefit from prescribed cannabis-based medicines. This means that a whole industry has been waiting in anticipation for the roll-out of the drugs.
Suppliers of the cannabis-based medicines used in the trial were Australian, Israeli and German companies whilst the distribution is handled by the French.

Next to Germany, France will have the chance to bene of the biggest European markets for medical cannabis, as reported by the French daily Le Monde.
But despite the guarantee of a booming market, introducing these drugs to the French market and getting the trial off the ground has been anything but a bed of roses.

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Liz Filmer