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France: A complicated relationship with cannabis

France: A complicated relationship with cannabis

On October 9, France announced its first medical cannabis trial set to begin in March 2021.

In the two-year trial, 3000 patients will be given medical cannabis for free to assess its efficacy on conditions including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuropathic pain.

Companies supplying the pharmaceutical-grade medicine will be required to do so at no cost to the public purse.

The decree states that suppliers:

“…may not claim or expect at the end of the experiment any guaranteed right or direct or indirect benefit linked to their participation, particularly in the event of (general legalization) of cannabis for medical use by the French authorities.” 

The trial is, of course, good news for medical cannabis campaigners.

France has the joint highest prevalence of cannabis use in all of Europe, accounting for around 11% of the population.

The trial is backed by National Assembly member Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who said that ‘France must get out of prehistory in terms of cannabis’ and that the plant is ‘a drug which can also be a medicine.’

However, cannabis reform has been met with resistance from a number of high-profile government officials, including Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin:

“I cannot, as Minister of the Interior, as a politician, tell parents who are fighting to get their children out of drug addiction, that we are going to legalize this s**t.”

Gérald Darmanin

CBD in France

France is reportedly Europe’s largest hemp cultivator, planting around 35,830 acres in 2019.

But cannabis companies can only manufacture, process and market products derived from the fibre and seeds of the cannabis plant and not the CBD-rich flower itself.

This could all change on November 19, when the Court of Justice of the European Union is set to rule on a landmark case.

In 2014, two startup managers were prosecuted for trying to sell a hemp-derived CBD vape product under the Kanavape brand.

However, the CBD used in the product was legally grown in the Czech Republic in accordance with Czech and EU law.

The French Court of Appeals of Aix-en-Provence passed the case on to the EU. We shall soon find out whether France’s hemp restrictions are in violation of the EU’s free movement principle.

Header Image by Elionas2 from Pixabay

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