Seven months after the official debut of France’s medical program, the government has reached 1/3rd of its planned patient count. What next?
France has managed to keep a relatively low profile in the entire cannabis discussion, generally, despite all the furor now afoot in almost every country that surrounds it. It is not to say the French are inconsequential to the entire conversation. Indeed, a CBD vape case decided here is responsible for creating the first case law on the cross-continental transport and subsequent sale of legally produced product.
However, beyond this, and sadly, even on the medical side, the French have been missing from the discussion, and in a big way. Namely, seven months into the experiment, only 1/3rd of the total paltry study number to begin with have even been accepted in the now ongoing (and much delayed) trial. In contrast, Germany, which had about 800 patients at the time the law changed in 2017, had at least 8,000 patients of a first year’s total of between 12,000 and 20,000 incorporated into the formal program by the same period. Given the huge hurdles that still exist in Germany four years later and as the patient count tops six figures, this says a great deal about the hurdles now faced by the French.
Patient counts will continue to increase until September 2022 – which means that the government has just over 10 months to register the remaining 2/3rds of patients.
Covid is undoubtedly responsible – but beyond this, as every legalizing state and country knows, this is far from a fast process when done “officially,” and even more particularly for the first time.
That said, there is a bit of a silver lining. The quotas by patient indication and by doctor have been lifted. The criteria for access for those in palliative care and oncology have also been expanded.
There are only 48 general practitioners and 212 pharmacists who are now trained to prescribe and administer cannabis and a total of 1035 health professionals overall.
So far, 22% of patients have left the experiment due to adverse effects or inefficacy. There are, as a result, currently 779 active patients in the national trial.
One thing is for sure. The fact that the trial is already changing its official guidelines is a good sign. It means that the French, like the rest of the medically liberalizing planet, are realizing that preconceived notions about the drug, those who use it, and for what, are usually wrong, along with the “conventional wisdom.”
However, if one of the most cannabis-conservative countries in Europe so far can admit this, and adapt accordingly, it is also another sign that cannabis reform, and of all kinds, has landed in Europe, and will not be slowed.