France’s Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) has chosen companies that will supply the country’s free medical cannabis pilot program.
In October last year, the French government announced it will be providing up to 3,000 patients with free medical cannabis products – and it won’t be the government picking up the tab, but companies supplying the medicines.
Yesterday, ANSM announced the companies chosen to participate in the pilot. Among the firms are Australia’s Little Green Pharma and Althea.
Little Green Pharma and Althea will both be providing a product containing THC <1 mg / ml and CBD> 5 mg / ml, while Little Green Pharma will also be supplying a preparation containing THC <5 mg / ml and CBD > 5 mg / ml.
The two-year pilot project will involve patients suffering from serious conditions such as refractory neuropathic pain and drug-resistant forms of epilepsy. The program was meant to kick off last year, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Little Green Pharma products are grown and produced in Western Australia, while Althea’s are grown and manufactured by Canadian producer Aphria Inc., which is a part owner of Althea.
France has some of the toughest laws in Europe relating to marijuana and is lagging behind on the medical cannabis front – this trial is seen as an important step towards getting medications into the hands of patients. There are no guarantees past this program for the companies supplying free products, but it represents a foot in the door of what could be a significant market while also building on reputation.
CBD already has a significant non-medical (officially anyway) presence in the country and in November last year, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled member states must not prohibit the marketing of CBD, assuming it is lawfully produced. The ruling was sparked by criminal proceedings launched in France against parties producing hemp-derived CBD in the Czech Republic imported into France for use in other products.
While CBD may be legal in France, any trace of THC in a final product makes it illegal.
Trivia – France produces up to 40% of Europe’s hemp and is the world’s third-largest cultivator. It was the only Western European country that didn’t prohibit hemp cultivation during the 20th century. Much of the hemp grown in France is cultivated for fibre purposes.