The ban on cannabis medicines was lifted through a decree issued on Wednesday by the French Health Minister, Marisol Touraine. The decree makes it possible for French drug control authorities to allow cannabis-based medications to enter the market.
Therapeutic cannabis soon to be allowed? (Santé Magazine)
The Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine, had suggested looking into Sativex, an oral spray based on cannabis derivatives, for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. This product has already been introduced in the majority of countries in the European Union.
The decree also makes room for authorizations pertaining to the "production, transport, import, export, possession, supply, transfer, purchase, or use" of medications containing cannabis or its derivatives.
It was signed by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday, was published in the Official Journal on Friday, and takes effect today.
While this is definitely a step in the right direction, it is a rather careful one. The French marijuana policy is still rooted in prohibition, and we are still far from setting up a regulated cannabis market in the country.
Cannabis-based medications allowed in France (Le Parisien)
However, allowing cannabis-based medicines to be introduced in the market does not mean one can smoke the plant's leaves in all impunity. Smoking cannabis still remains completely forbidden.
"It all depends how the drug control agency issues authorizations," according to Laurent Appel of the French harm reduction association ASUD. "It's obviously the first step towards regulating the therapeutic use of cannabis. Other medications could follow as well, such as Bedrocan."