France Approves Medical Cannabis Research for 2020

Research will be funded via the country’s 2020 social security budget

Lawmakers in France approved the budget to allow for a two-year experiment to determine the health benefits and risks associated with medical marijuana. The National Assembly voted for the tests, as they already had the go-ahead from France’s ANSM medicines regulator. “I sincerely hope that the experiments can begin in the first quarter of 2020,” junior health minister Christelle Dubos said after the vote.

The trials will take place at various hospitals around France, and will study the effects of cannabis on patients with serious conditions such as epilepsy, chronic pain, cancer or involuntary muscle contractions associated with multiple sclerosis. The cannabis will be ingested via capsule, drops, or in an infused form. This allows researchers to get more accurate results, as smoking burns a lot of excess cannabis.

The trials are designed to determine how medical marijuana affects France as a society. The tests are not being run in a closed environment with patients being put under strict regulations. There will also be no control group. Doctors will simply be able to prescribe medical cannabis to patients in cases that are deemed fit. It is estimated that somewhere between 300,000 and 1 million patients could be eligible to use it.

France currently does not have any legal cannabis growth centers. This means that they will have to import cannabis from other countries until they have established their own supply. The Département of Creuse has made a bid to the government for a license to produce medical cannabis. The operation will be under tightly controlled conditions. It is hoped that this will also boost La Creuse’s sluggish economy.

The French government hopes that the legalization of medical marijuana will begin to reduce the number of opioids being prescribed in cases that they are not meant to be. The opioid crisis has become a major problem for many countries, as they are easily abused. The French government is clear that these trials won’t lead to further loosening on the laws around cannabis, however, there is currently pressure on the French government to do so. As countries begin to legalize around them, they may take the lead to legalize recreational marijuana.

 France has one of the highest proportions of recreational drug users in Europe and has recently softened the penalties for marijuana use to a €200 fine. This means that the use of the drug will no longer land you in jail, however it may still go on your criminal record. The two-year study will hopefully bring great news for the cannabis industry. The study may provide information on new health benefits of cannabis, and could then potentially open up France to the cannabis market.

Since the penalties have been softened, two coffee shops have opened up to sell CBD infused drinks. The law now allows for products containing less than 0.2% THC to be sold.  CBD is believed by some in the scientific community to have anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties without the psychoactive effects of THC. These shops are taking advantage of a grey area in the law which has not classified the legal status of CBD.