France will serve patients with free medical cannabis in 2021 experiment

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

An eagerly anticipated decree was recently published by the French government. The decree outlines the methods by which a free medical cannabis experiment will take place in the European country. 

As many as 3,000 patients are expected to participate in France’s cannabis experiment, which will see companies distribute their medical cannabis products among patients for no cost. 

In order to legally partake in the trial and serve the consumer demographic, all products must be manufactured and developed in accordance with pharmaceutical standards; specifically, the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).

France’s free medical cannabis experiment will take place for a limited time

Prescriptions will start being rolled out on March 31, 2021. The experiment will stretch over two years counting down from the start date of prescriptions being distributed among France’s medical cannabis patients, 

A number of things will be dealt with by the the general director of the French Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM), alongside the Ministry of Health and Solidarity.

Listed below is an overview of those responsibilities:

  • Noting the technical specifications, characteristics, composition and pharmaceutical form of medical cannabis products in France.
  • Creating a list of conditions that doctors will be able to prescribe medical cannabis as a treatment for; within the experiment.
  • Rules pertaining to cannabis control, distribution, importing and storing.

According to university professor and chair of the ANSM scientific committee on medical cannabis, Nicolas Authier, “an invitation to tender for the selection of cannabis-based products” will be put forward in the coming days.

Suppliers for France’s medical cannabis experiment “will probably be foreign, in collaboration with pharmaceutical laboratories established in France and licensed for narcotics,” predicted Authier, who says that his reason for believing this is due to the fact high-THC cannabis cultivation is illegal in France. 

Authier added that the country is “officially committed” to ensuring patient access to medical cannabis and that there will likely be “five more months of work before the first prescriptions.”

Patient registry will be developed by the ANSM for medical cannabis in France

A patient registry will be implemented by the ANSM. With patient, doctor and pharmacy consent, the registry will be updated on a regular basis. The purpose of France’s medical cannabis patient registry is to serve a variety of pharmacovigilance-related objectives.

Only will medical cannabis be prescribed to patients free of charge if the doctor deems that person to require plant-based medicines after exhausting other options. In order to volunteer and prescribe free cannabis under France’s medical cannabis experiment, doctors and pharmacies must first participate in a mandatory training program.

A budget is still waiting to be hashed out by the French parliament.