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Marijuana-Based Medicines Okayed in France

At the behest of Social Affairs and Health Minister Marisol Touraine, France has modified its Public Health Code to allow for the use of marijuana-based medicines, apparently including raw marijuana itself. Decree n° 2013-473 was published Friday, removing what had been a prohibition on all non-industrial use of the plant.

The code modification makes legal “the production, transport, export, possession, offering, acquisition or use of specialty pharmaceuticals that contains one of these (cannabis-derivative) substances.” But individual marijuana-based medicines must still be approved by the National Medical Safety Agency.

france medical cannabis regulations sativexHow exactly the law will be implemented remains to be seen. That will be up to Minister Touraine, who will ratify the decree in coming weeks.

While the law appears to clear the way for marijuana-based medicines such as the sublingual spray Sativex and the old marijuana substitute Marinol (Cesamet), it could also allow for the use of raw marijuana produced under strict conditions for medical purposes, such as that produced by Bedrocan in the Netherlands.

But it could take awhile.

“The law allows us above all to unblock the process of launching research into cannabinoids,” Pharmacists’ Union spokesperson Philippe Gaertner told the online publication StreetPress. “I’m not sure we’ll have these medicines on the market quickly.”

Other European countries that allow for some form of therapeutic cannabis include Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.

By Phillip Smith