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French study recommends legalising therapeutic cannabis

Don MacKinnon, AFP | A branch of cannabis sativa.

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

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The committee, convened by France's ANSM (the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products), stated that it would be “appropriate to authorise the use of therapeutic cannabis […] in certain clinical situations and in cases where [existing] therapies provide insufficient relief or are not well tolerated”.

According to the committee, the law should authorise the use of the plant in cases of severe pain, for certain types of epilepsy, as part of ancillary care for cancer patients, in certain “palliative situations” and for the muscular contractions linked to multiple sclerosis.

The committee ruled out recommending that cannibis be administered by smoking, given the associated health risks.

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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 patients before 2020, said Nicolas Authier, head of the scientific committee. Almost 30 countries have legalised the therapeutic use of cannabis, including 21 members of the European Union.

ANSM said in a tweet that it “will decide in the next days” what measures it will take in the wake of the study's findings.

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