3,000 medical cannabis patients in France to receive free weed for two years

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France has announced a medical cannabis trial that is expected to begin in Mar. 2021, will run for two years and will see 3,000 patients receive pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products for free, Le Monde reports.

France’s Ministry of Health and Solidarity will oversee the trial, which was approved by the National Assembly in 2019. The program will focus on the efficacy of cannabis therapy to treat conditions such as epilepsy, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and the side effects of chemotherapy, and will be limited to smokeless products like oils, tinctures and capsules.

Cannabis is illegal in France for recreational use and has been banned for medical use since 1953. In September, the country implemented a fixed fine of 200 euros (about $300) for cannabis consumption, rather than taking individuals into custody.

Though the plant is widely consumed, not everyone is in favour of cannabis reform.

Last month, in an interview with Le Parisien, Gérald Darmanin, France’s Minister of the Interior, called cannabis legalization “shit.”

Darmanin reportedly said, “I cannot, as Minister of the Interior, as a politician, tell parents who are fighting to get their children out of drug addiction, that we are going to legalize this shit.”

Others, like politician Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who has been serving as a member of the National Assembly since 2017, applauded the medical trial. “France must get out of prehistory in terms of cannabis,” Moreau said, calling the plant “a drug which can also be a medicine.”

In January 2018, Denmark began a similar trial, launching a four-year medical cannabis program, with many of the products imported from Canada.

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