France: L'arlésienne therapeutic cannabis

Since the work of the first CSST (Temporary Specialized Scientific Committee) and the unanimous acceptance by parliamentarians of the experimental project, water has flowed under the bridges, the Covid has been there and everything seems blocked since ...

The ACT collective (Alternative Cannabis Therapeutics collective) founded by the UFCM, like other associations representing users of the healthcare system, has joined the current temporary scientific committee to provide its expertise on the subject, which is still delicate in France, to the use of cannabis, even when this use is linked to a highly disabling chronic pathology. French leaders fear that the country is falling behind its European neighbors.

Several associations of patients, doctors have recently stepped up to the plate, in different media, to shout their indignation. The problems of these successive postponements are however easy to understand. On the one hand, no decree has appeared to date with regard to this experiment and, on the other hand, no budget has been allocated for its implementation. It is also not certain that the nursing staff are currently sufficiently trained in this type of therapy. The Directorate General of Health ensures, however, that a publication of the decree is scheduled for the month of September, doctors and patients, who keep their feet on the ground, in doubt.

From the start of the work of the CST, and we had stated it on numerous occasions: the framework seemed too limited to us, on the one hand, by the number of patients concerned (3000), but also by the few indications retained 5 while at the European level the IACM recognizes around twenty indications with more than 40 pathologies.

We believe that an experiment should start with a broad consensus to be refined as information is collected from both healthcare professionals and above all from patients. Starting in a restricted way will necessarily pose a problem when it will be necessary to extend to other pathologies, in particular psychiatric illnesses (hyperactivity, bi polarity, etc.).

The CST has been working since November on several aspects necessary for the implementation of this progress:

  • Specifications (products)
  • Training of healthcare professionals
  • The register (data collection)
  • Patient inclusion criteria

It should be noted at this stage that the Covid did not at any time hinder the work of the CST, which continued to be involved in this project on a regular basis by audio conferences. The work is therefore well advanced and could allow the experiment to start quickly.

To date, we lack a strong political will, the decree allowing us to continue our work has still not been published and we have no budget which is a real problem since it would be essential to have at least 30 million Euros in order to set up the tools essential for this project as well as the financing of the products.

It seems important to us to be able to free ourselves from the free products requested by France from producers, for two essential reasons: the image of France first of all, which would therefore be unable to finance an experiment for its patients, a free service that is undoubtedly accompanied. compensation granted to producers. How can we believe that, in today's world, producers would give a gift of several million euros to an entire country without demanding any compensation?

In the same sense, it is also necessary to authorize the creation and development of a French sector for the production of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. For the moment this is not on the agenda and the recent declarations of the Minister of the Interior on recreational cannabis worry us as much as the lack of reactions from the Ministry of Health, which seems to have been totally focused for some time. on the Covid.

We go from postponement to postponement as if the suffering patients expected nothing, in fact, what are they waiting for today?

We can in no way be against this experiment and even if it is still very insufficient, it still remains a considerable progress. We are aware of the difficulties, getting out of 50 years of prohibition does not happen with a snap of the fingers ...

Today it seems important to us to put heart patients of this problem and override this experiment which, anyway, is not about the effectiveness of cannabis but how to prescribe it. Thus, using the work of the CST to start prescribing and generalize and expand as quickly as possible the pathologies concerned would allow faster access to treatment for many patients who are currently suffering, left facing their therapeutic impasse and forced to obtain supplies. illegally for treatment.

An urgent call to action

The committee made this request in a document, asking for a budget that would support some sort of experiment around medical cannabis and its potential for legalization. 

"It is very important that funding for the medical cannabis experiment is now integrated into this process," said Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy, CEO of Augur Associates in Paris, in 2019, regarding the importance of moving forward. 'forward and get things done. While France technically approved such an experiment a year ago through legal channels, it takes real implementation to kick-start something and enter the testing phase so that progress can be tracked.  

Robin Reda of the French National Assembly and chair of the committee says she believes France "has fallen alarmingly behind its European neighbors" in terms of reforming cannabis as a whole. "Most of the technical work was done before the health crisis," Reda added, explaining that she does not think this delay is due to COVID alone, as there has been a lot of time. Rather, she blames the “bureaucratic block” and wonders why the government is not moving forward. 

Under the new experimental program, if allowed to start, up to 3000 people could be signed up to try medical cannabis as a treatment. At first, the program would likely depend on North American cannabis cultivation until the government could set up its own cultivation structure for patients. Defenders would like this program to be launched as early as 2021. 

In addition to those on the Cannabis Support Committee, 50 doctors, scientists and patients voiced these same concerns earlier this month in an editorial published in Le Parisien. They argued that due to the long delay in medical cannabis programs, there is no access for patients, forcing those in need of medical cannabis to look outside of legal channels and look for themselves. turn to the black market. They also claim that the framework has already been laid. 

Two years ago, this officially began within the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) at the request of the former Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn ”, they declared ( originally in French) in their editorial. “Since September 2018, work has therefore been initiated within a multidisciplinary scientific committee of the ANSM. They assessed the scientific relevance of access to standard cannabis-based pharmaceuticals for patients with chronic illnesses with little or no relief from their suffering through their treatments.

While this is only a small step towards legal cannabis in France, it would certainly be the biggest step taken since the approval of a medical cannabis experiment. If this experiment continues, it could truly be the start of medical and recreational cannabis in the European country.

For the ACT - UFCM - I Care Collective @Bertrand Rambaud

Tags : FranceLawProhibition

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