On May 28 this year, the French Senate passed a bill paving the way for marijuana to start being used therapeutically in the country. The health ministry is yet to give its approval to this law, but once it does, an experiment lasting two years will be launched to analyze the effects of marijuana on pain relief.
Patient groups put the estimate of people who would be eligible to access marijuana for pain at about 300,000-1,000,000 people. A committee is evaluating the measures which have been designed to implement the medical cannabis experiment. This committee will release their findings on June 26.
The experiment is likely to get underway in a few weeks, but the biggest challenge which will be faced is how to set up a supply chain for the industry. Initially, medical cannabis will be imported from countries where it is legal and produced to internationally acceptable standards.
As medical cannabis is imported, locally licensed producers will be busy at work setting up cultivation facilities in greenhouses or highly controlled fields. The sunlight, humidity and temperature will all be closely monitored and controlled in this unconventional agricultural undertaking.
The growers selected will be required to meet the EU rules on how to grow medical cannabis whose quality is consistent.
Medical marijuana will not be a bonanza for all who wish to use it. Physicians will only prescribe it if a patient hasn’t benefited from all the available pain treatments in the country. Of special interest will be people suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, some forms of epilepsy and patients undergoing palliative care.
When addressing the French Senate at the beginning of the debate on the medical marijuana bill, Senator Esther Benbassa revealed that the list of conditions for which medical marijuana could be prescribed is likely to be expanded in future to include more ailments.
Some senators, especially those from the Republican Party, fear that the medical marijuana program is being used as a Trojan horse in a bid to legalize recreational marijuana. Advocates disagree and assert that medical marijuana cannot be abused for recreational purposes since the two uses require different forms of cannabis. For example, the advocates say that therapeutic-grade marijuana is low in THC, so recreational users cannot get the psychoactive effects which they require to address their needs.
Marijuana advocates welcomed the new bill and hope that the way will be opened for exploring other purposes for which marijuana can be used. These include wellness products like supplements, oils and cannabis-infused vitamins.
Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) and Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) welcome France into the fold of countries which are benefiting from the medicinal effects of marijuana.
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