Medical cannabis patients in France had been hoping that the plant be legalised at the end of the ‘cannabis experiment’ in March 2023. However, those same patients now face an extension to the trial of at least one more year.
The Directorate General of Health (DGS) seemingly announced the extension prematurely, rather than waiting for the results of the therapeutic cannabis experiment. Newsweed reports that the decision to extend, rather than legalise, was undertaken because:
- Participation within the cannabis experiment was particularly low amongst doctors, with only 200 practitioners signing up to the scheme
- Economic data on gains achieved by prescribing medical cannabis, rather than traditional therapeutics, are lacking
- Future regulatory change would have to comply with European regulations, and those discussions need to be ongoing
In a clumsy announcement, in which manufacturers were addressed ahead of patients, there seemed to be no consultation with patient groups who had been expecting a different outcome.
The disconnect between the DSG and patients was highlighted in a press release in which the association stated that they “deeply regret not having been consulted, or even informed of this decision, before it was leaked to the press by a press release from representatives of the agro-industrial sector. This method is symptomatic of the lack of consideration enjoyed by patients in this decision.”
Even though the majority of medical cannabis patients have been failed by traditional therapeutics and have turned to the plant as a last line of treatment, the DSG have apparently ignored this and have specifically highlighted the need for economic gains compared with prescribing currently available pharmaceuticals France.
Taking aim at the economic argument for prescribing medical cannabis, the association said: “Prioritizing economic interests over improving the health and quality of life of tens of thousands of patients suffering from chronic and severely disabling symptoms constitutes a dangerous break with public health ethics and even the doctrine of “whatever the cost” adopted at the time of the Covid-19 crisis.”
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