Want free weed? Go to France!
Okay, it’s not that simple. But after long delays and the proper application of righteous pressure from enlightened authorities, the French government has announced at last that it will undertake a nationwide experiment next year in distributing free medical marijuana to qualifying citizens of The Republic. Ooh-la-lit!
The plan is for up to 3,000 patients to take part in the experiment. They will receive pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for two years, with the first prescription expected to go into effect in March 2021. Doctors and pharmacists will participate on a voluntary basis, and will have to undergo proper training.
France’s Ministry of Health and Solidarity (MHS) is set to run the program in cooperation with the French Health Association (ANSM). The ANSM now fully endorses cannabis as a medicinal tool for reducing pain, controlling epilepsy, treating the effects of cancer, and for ongoing palliative care. Although still, as in other European countries, the ANSM regards medical marijuana only as a last resort — to only be used when all other therapeutic possibilities have failed.
The MHS and ANSM said that they will soon release the program’s details, which will include what form the cannabis-based products will take, the specific roster of qualifying conditions that patients will need to be eligible, and how the cannabis will be obtained, processed, stored, and controlled.
Although to many observers — not the least of whom are the patients who will benefit most from free medicine — the program has felt slow in coming to fruition. Still, this announcement also seems like a sudden leap forward, as high-concentrate THC remains illegal in France and, as recently as two years ago, a simple possession bust might land you a $4,500 fine and/or one year in jail.
Speaking to Marijuana Business Daily, Nicolas Authier, the chair of the ANSM Scientific Committee on Medical Cannabis, said he believes the materials will be imported from other countries. He also said he expects the finalized details to be announced “in the coming days.”
“Five more months of work before the first prescriptions,” Authier added, “but France is now officially committed to access to medical cannabis.”