France’s 2023 medical cannabis journey: Challenges and progress

Paris France at night

France’s 2023 medical cannabis odyssey: A turning point in European healthcare

In the landscape of European cannabis legislation, 2023 has emerged as a watershed year, with France at the forefront of a pivotal shift. The journey towards establishing a comprehensive medical cannabis system in France has been marked by significant developments, challenges, and a complex interplay of patient needs, regulatory frameworks, and economic considerations. This article delves into the intricate saga of France's medical cannabis journey throughout 2023, offering a detailed exploration of the milestones, setbacks, and future prospects of cannabis legalization in the realm of healthcare.

TThe genesis of France's medical cannabis pilot project

The narrative began with the French medical cannabis pilot project, initiated in March 2021. Designed as a groundbreaking venture, the project aimed to provide over 2,000 patients with free medical cannabis, with the anticipation of integrating these treatments into the national health service after the pilot's conclusion. However, the government's decision to extend the pilot by an additional year in September 2022 raised critical questions about the future of cannabis generalization in France, particularly regarding the continued provision of free treatments for patients.

Clinical data and the path to generalization

By February 2023, the first clinical data from the trial was released, revealing a strong positive response from the patient community. Despite this encouraging outcome, the trial's primary focus on safety and efficacy as secondary objectives meant that these results had limited influence on the generalization plans, which remained shrouded in uncertainty.

Challenges in the tender process and supply shortages

April 2023 witnessed complications in the tender process for supplying the extended pilot. Prominent companies in the cannabis industry, including Aurora Cannabis, Tilray, Panaxia, and Little Green Pharma, faced significant cost burdens. This led to supply shortages, directly impacting patient access to treatment. The French government's lack of a dedicated budget or a finalized regulatory framework for medical cannabis further exacerbated these issues.

Little Green Pharma's role in the pilot program

In July 2023, Australian firm Little Green Pharma (LGP) emerged as a key player, winning a second tender call and agreeing to supply its CBD50 medical cannabis oil to the French pilot program. Despite initial reluctance due to low compensation offers from the French Ministry of Health, LGP remained a major supplier for the trial, highlighting the complexities of balancing economic viability with patient needs in the burgeoning medical cannabis market.

Uncertainty in the 2024 social security financing bill

The publication of the 2024 Social Security Financing Bill in September 2023 brought more uncertainty, as it omitted any mention of the medical cannabis project or budget allocation. This left the future of the industry in limbo, with the pilot's deadline approaching and no clear path forward.

Government's stance and the future of medical cannabis in France

However, in October 2023, France's Minister for Health, Aurélien Rousseau, confirmed the continuation of the medical cannabis experiment, though without committing to a broader rollout across France. The government planned to switch to compassionate access if European marketing authorization was not granted by 2025.

A significant development occurred in November 2023 when the government tabled an amendment to the Social Security Financing Bill, integrating medical cannabis into France's general medical framework for the first time. This amendment proposed a five-year temporary authorization for medical cannabis products, with the possibility of indefinite renewal.

Finally, in December 2023, France's National Assembly approved the 2024 Social Security Financing Bill, including the amendment on medical cannabis. While this did not equate to a full generalization, it set a transition period of nine months post-April 2024, with a €10m budget allocated for this phase, allowing patients to continue accessing their medicines.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

About the author:

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen is known for his extensive knowledge and expertise in the fields of CBD and hemp production. With a career spanning over a decade in the cannabis industry, he has dedicated his life to understanding the intricacies of these plants and their potential benefits to human health and the environment. Over the years, Robin has worked tirelessly to promote the full legalization of hemp in Europe. His fascination with the plant's versatility and potential for sustainable production led him to pursue a career in the field.

More about Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

Related products

1 of 3