France seeks patients for medicinal cannabis trial

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AUTHOR: Mark Taylor

France is searching for patients to take part in an official medical cannabis trial, but users will not be smoking the drug.

The two-year experiment is being overseen by the French Agency for Drug Safety (ANSM), which drew up a 13-name committee to explore the possibilities of reform in one of Europe’s largest markets in December 2018.

International firms have been lobbying the French government to loosen its strict anti-cannabis laws, which currently make it difficult for firms to conduct any research in the country.

French patients who suffer from pain not treated by other medicines will be eligible, and the committee is looking for anyone in palliative care, epilepsy patients, and those suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy.

Patients with muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis are also invited to take part.

Ingestion will occur via oils, drops, and capsules at participating pain centres, multiple sclerosis clinics, and other medical centres across the country.

While the country moves forward with an overhaul of its medicinal cannabis legislation, there is no sign of any regulated adult market for recreational opening any time soon.

The medicinal experiment will officially launch in early 2020, running until 2022 before a final report containing all the clinical data will be presented to the committee.

Any tweaking of laws will only happen post-2022 when the report has been fully digested by the relevant parties.

France is the world’s sixth largest economy, and the third largest in Europe. Earlier this year, a think tank set up to advise the government on policy estimated that there are 700,000 daily cannabis users in France, while 1.4 million use it on a regular basis.

It has argued that cannabis should be completely legalised for both medicinal purposes and adult recreational use, in order to cut crime and bolster government coffers. The think tank said such an industry would create up to 80,000 jobs, while bringing in up to €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion) in tax revenues.

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