The Macron administration will not push for the legalization of medical cannabis in France in 2024, with it being a notable absence from the forthcoming Social Security Finance Bill. Both patients and industry professionals are concerned and disappointed. Now, the future of medical cannabis is uncertain, with possibilities including an extension of the current program or a terminal ending.
According to sources, the Macron administration will not be pushing for the legalization of medical cannabis in France. At least, not in 2024.
The forthcoming Social Security Finance Bill (PLFSS) will not include a budget line to expand the use of medical cannabis in France, which is currently limited to around 2,000 participants in the therapeutic cannabis experiment.
Government Response to Medical Cannabis in France
When asked about the reason for this omission, the French Health Directorate did not respond to inquiries. However, other sources simply pointed to the opposition from Mildeca and the Ministry of the Interior.
Franck Milone, founder of French medical cannabis producer LaFleur, said that they had “mobilized with the authorities in recent months to participate in various working groups for the integration of medical cannabis into common law. The legislative texts are ready, patients and health professionals are awaiting a clear framework, allowing secure access to medical cannabis. The situation for patients in France is critical; many were already affected last year by product shortages. The government needs to get more involved in this public health issue! France shouldn’t be a sub-market.”
Patient Advocacy Perspective
Mado Gilanton, president of the French association Apaiser S&C, states, “It’s a political decision. Those who made the decision must not have read the various reports from the experiment, haven’t faced the positive feedback from patients, or their extreme difficulty during product shortages. After 5 years of work and overwhelmingly positive feedback, it’s incomprehensible. There might still be amendments that allow compassionate access for those in France who can afford it, but it’s very disappointing for the people involved and the patients.”
Professor Nicolas Authier also highlights the opposition in France, saying, “After five years of serious work on this issue, opposing forces are re-emerging, with their retinue of fantasies and irrational talking points reminiscent of flat-earthers. They will do everything to severely restrict access to these medicines intended for patients in therapeutic deadlock and severe suffering. We must be persuasive in the coming weeks and counter their ideology with the relevance and rigor of the approach taken during these 5 years of work and experimentation.”
Frantz Deschamps, president of Health France Cannabis, notes, “The discussions around the PLFSS were crucial for the industry and patients. Our main fear is that there will be an extension or entry into common law, with a status that does not offer real accessibility to patients. The DGS has done significant work on the ad hoc status for these drugs and patients in therapeutic deadlock. Contrary to what some say, the French industry is ready to supply its first batches to patients. The fight is now for entry into common law and real accessibility.”
What’s Next for Medical Cannabis in France?
The inclusion of the expansion of medical cannabis in the 2024 PLFSS was the prime route to transition from experimentation and provide relief for patients diagnosed with at least one of the 5 eligible conditions (epilepsy, oncology, neuropathic pain, palliative care, and painful spasticity).
Legalization of medical cannabis can still be proposed by amendment during PLFSS debates, as confirmed by Professor Nicolas Authier: “In the absence of a decision, there will be a government amendment at the very least to bring it into common law – as the experiment is set to end in March 2024 – or a cross-party amendment being prepared with Caroline Janvier, as a counter-proposal if the first seems unsuitable and especially too restrictive.”
Future of Medical Cannabis Experimentation in France
Two potential scenarios for France emerge here:
- The experimentation in France could be extended to continue supporting current patients and providing the necessary medications. In this scenario, it would not be able to incorporate more sick individuals.
- It might also conclude, leaving patients without access to cannabis-based medicines unless a solution is found through amendments.
Only time will tell, so keep up to date with the status of medical cannabis in France by downloading our free cannabis news app.
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