Experimentation with medical cannabis may not lead to legalization

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There was hope on the side of the sick. They will have to be patient. According to our information, the experimentation with medical cannabis, which will end in March 2023, may not lead to the legalization of medical cannabis in France.

Instead, a second experiment with an undetermined budget and duration. With a major difference compared to the first: medical cannabis products would this time be paid to suppliers, and no longer provided free of charge.

The National Health and Medicines Agency, which refers to the General Directorate of Health (DGS) for any request concerning the sequence of events, has already asked current suppliers for a price list to estimate the cost of the second experiment, confirms a source close to the file.

The sums calculated being particularly high, the Agency would also be forced to launch a call for tenders, which is mandatory as soon as the amount of a public contract exceeds €40,000 (or €100,000 for innovative products). The supply of medical cannabis could therefore open up to companies that are not currently part of the experiment. This obligation was avoided during the first experiment, medical cannabis being provided free of charge. The ANSM had thus taken advantage of more freedom to choose suppliers at its discretion.

On the side of the current experimentation, the inclusions have finally been extended until December 26th. At the beginning of July, 1,226 patients were included in the experiment, out of the 3,000 places open. 540 patients have left the experiment since its launch, including 186 for adverse effects and 200 for ineffective treatment.

A report, produced by an external entity, will be submitted to Parliament on September 26, ie 6 months before the end of the experiment, and will evaluate the system on the basis of the data collected.

Nicolas Authier, president of the temporary Scientific Committee for the follow-up of the experimentation of cannabis for medical use, does not comment on the possible continuation of the experiment. But confirms that “the arbitrations are now political and will take place in the coming weeks because the follow-up (from April 2023) will have to be integrated into the PLFSS2023”, the Social Security financing bill which sets the expenditure of the State throughout the year in terms of health.

From there to conclude that allocating a budget to treat the sick, moreover with cannabis, is the only reason that prevents generalization, there is only one step.

Nicolas Authier also explains to us that there are still two major points to be settled:

  • the status of these products (ad hocin this case to be integrated into the public health code, or magistral preparation)
  • reimbursement or not by health insurance

Questioned by us, the DGS has not yet granted our requests for clarification.

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