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DRUGS

Medicinal cannabis should be legalised in France, according to study

Medicinal cannabis plants in Ontario, Canada.
Medicinal cannabis plants in Ontario, Canada. Lars Hagberg / AFP

A scientific committee convened by the French government has concluded that it could be “appropriate” to legalise cannabis for therapeutic use in a report made public on Thursday.

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The committee set up set up by the National Drug Safety Agency (ANSM) published the report, in which experts plead for the development of the law to allow the use of this plant, in particular to relieve pain. However, they are only recommending it for specific cases and by other means than smoking the plant, taking into account the associated health risks.

"The committee considers it appropriate to authorize the use of the therapeutic cannabis for patients in particular clinical situations”, says the report.

Cannabis is said to be successful in pain reduction associated with the treatment of certain severe forms of epilepsy, and for patients being treated for a cancer or in palliative care.

If France adopts the recommendation it would mark the first step towards legalising therapeutic cannabis and would be followed by market regulation and tracking patients to evaluate the risks and benefits.

Medical cannabis may not be available to French patients before 2020, said Nicolas Authier, head of the ANSM study.

More than thirty countries internationally, including many American states and Canada, authorise therapeutic cannabis. This includes 21 in the European Union, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Israel and Turkey.

The ANSM states in a press release that it will decide within the next few days what are the steps to take following the results of this report.

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