Cannabis Flower Won’t Be Included in French Medical Cannabis Program

Cannabis Flower Won’t Be Included in French Medical Cannabis Program

France is currently working toward the eventual launch of its official medical cannabis program, and a new update from the French National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) recently announced that access to cannabis flower is not currently included.

France’s medical cannabis experiment began in August 2021, and 2024 is set to be the last year of the experiment, while patients will only be accepted if they applied prior to March 26, 2024. The official launch of the country’s medical cannabis program is set to occur sometime in 2025.

ANSM published an update on Feb. 20, explaining that with an end date for patient applications, there will be an end to access of cannabis flower as well. “Medicines in the form of flowers (flowering tops to be inhaled) will cease to be made available in the coming weeks,” ANSM stated. “Prescribing doctors must therefore gradually stop flower treatment for their patients and not initiate new treatments with this form. Guidelines have been distributed to healthcare professionals.”

After March 26, the program will enter a transition period until the official launch of the French medical cannabis program occurs in 2025.

For now, ANSM is recommending that healthcare professionals “implement the gradual cessation of flower treatments” for their patients, and not “initiate new flower treatments.” Likewise, ANSM is recommending that patients who utilize cannabis flower to seek out assistance from their medical practitioners to adjust their treatment accordingly.

ANSM stated that over the course of the last three years, a total of 3,035 people have participated in the experiment, and 1,842 participants are currently being treated. “The data collected during the first two years of the experiment were evaluated by various studies,” ANSM explained. “They show the effectiveness of medical cannabis in all indications of the experiment, maintained over several months in certain patients, as well as a secure and operational prescription and delivery circuit.”

Aurora Cannabis is the only company approved by ANSM to supply cannabis flower for the program, which first began in August 2021. “The first prescriptions of dried medical cannabis as part of the French pilot program are a significant step toward providing access to patients and will support the destigmatization of medical cannabis in France,” Aurora Cannabis CEO Miguel Marin said at the time. Aurora supplied three different types of flower: one high-THC flower, one balanced THC/CBD flower, and one high-CBD flower.

On December 26, 2023, the French social security financing law was passed. It established that ANSM would authorize medical cannabis use for five years, meaning that patients will be allowed to continue their medical cannabis prescriptions going forward (minus the access to flower).

The decision to end supply of medical cannabis has been met with opposition. According to Business of Cannabis, Dr. Nicholas Authier was involved with the medical cannabis experiment program, and condemns the sudden change. “What surprises us as doctors is the brutality of the decision,” Authier said. “We thought we would have time to gradually stop therapy. Stopping a treatment taken for several years cannot be done over two weeks, but over several months. This could have a significant impact on the pain felt by patients.”

Currently, it is unclear if medical cannabis flower will be brought back after the program officially launches in 2025. According to the French government, it “is explained by the wish of the manufacturer [Aurora Cannabis] not to continue the supply of products.” All flower provided by Aurora Cannabis during the pilot program was free, so it makes sense that the company would want to cease providing free flower now that the experiment is ending.

While France continues to work out its anticipated medical cannabis program, the German parliament recently legalized adult-use cannabis. As of April 1, the law allows anyone over 18 to possess cannabis in public up to 25 grams, or up to 50 grams at home.

After July 1, cannabis social clubs will be available only to German consumers, and each club can serve up to 500 members. The clubs will be allowed to grow and distribute cannabis to its members, but currently the clubs are the only source of access for consumers. There are not licensed shops or pharmacies that consumers will be able to purchase cannabis from. However, adults are permitted to grow up to three cannabis plants per household.

Germany is now the third European country to legalize adult-use cannabis. The first was Malta, which legalized both use and possession in December 2021, followed by Luxembourg in June 2023.

Cannabis brands in the U.S. have invested interest in expanding into Europe as cannabis becomes legalized. Recently, U.S.-based edibles company, Wana Brands announced a partnership with Alpen Group, which is a vertically integrated company based in Switzerland. “Since Wana Brands was established in Colorado’s budding market in 2010, our mission has been to pioneer our presence in emerging markets. This vision has now taken us across the Atlantic to Switzerland, marking 14 years of expansive growth. Our collaboration with Alpen Group, a company that mirrors our commitment to quality, positions us to become the pioneering American cannabis edibles brand in the European Union’s adult-use market,” said co-founder and CEO of Wana Brands, Nancy Whiteman.

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