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Law France


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Staff member
French Committee Pushes for Cannabis Legalization
French leaders are concerned that the country is falling behind its European neighbors.

Throughout all the major cannabis news that has been making headlines in Europe, the U.S., and across the globe over the past ten or so years, France has been almost nowhere in the mix.

A parliamentary committee wants to change that as soon as possible and the members are urging the government to initiate a medical cannabis experiment and figure out the best way to address medical cannabis concerns.

An Urgent Call To Action
The committee made this demand in a document, asking for a budget that would support some kind of experiment surrounding medical cannabis and its potential for legalization.

“It’s 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, back in 2019 regarding the importance of moving forward and making something happen. While France has technically approved such an experiment a year ago through legal channels, there needs to be actual implementation to get something off the ground and into the trial stage so that progress can be monitored.

Robin Reda of the French National Assembly and president of the committee claims that she believes France “has fallen alarmingly behind its European neighbors” in terms of cannabis reform overall. “The bulk of the technical work was done before the health crisis,” Reda added, explaining that she doesn’t believe this delay is due to COVID alone, as there has been plenty of time. She instead blames “bureaucratic blockage” and wonders why the government is not moving forward.

Under the new, experimental program, if it is allowed to get started, as many as 3,000 people could be enrolled to try medical cannabis as treatment. At first, the program would probably be dependent on North American cannabis grows until the government can set up its own grow structure for patients. Advocates would like to see this program get started as early as 2021.

In addition to those on the committee supporting cannabis, 50 doctors, scientists, and patients expressed these same concerns earlier this month in an op-ed published in Le Parisien. They argued that because of the lengthy delay on medical cannabis programs, there is no access for patients, causing those who need medical cannabis to look outside legal channels and turn to the black market. They also argue 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 previous Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn,” they stated (originally in French) in their op-ed. “Since September 2018, work has then been initiated within a multidisciplinary, scientific committee of the ANSM. They assessed the scientific relevance of providing access to cannabis-based, pharmaceutical standard products for chronically ill patients with little or no relief from their suffering by their treatments.”

While this would only be a small step towards legal cannabis in France, it would definitely be the biggest step that has been taken since a medical cannabis experiment was approved. If this experiment goes forward, it truly could be the start of both medical and recreational cannabis in the European country.

France To Give Out Cannabis for Free

Okay, it’s an admittedly vague title, but it’s still true. France’s upcoming medical pilot program involves supplying medical cannabis to patients for free, and though the program was postponed, France just released the companies that won the bid to supply this free marijuana.

Let’s be honest, France is not the most liberal when it comes to marijuana. Unlike its neighbors Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany, France does not allow for any decriminalization, personal use, or medical legalization measures. In fact, not only is France still rather conservative when it comes to cannabis, but the country was willing to allow a whole lawsuit with the EU (which it lost) just to keep CBD out. (Of course, this move was likely for the protection of pharmaceutical interests, but we’ll get into that later.) Now, with the recent announcement of a medical pilot program, France is promising to give out cannabis for free, and already lined up the companies that will provide it.

France and cannabis

The idea that France is about to give away cannabis for free is certainly a 180⁰ turn from its current laws. It is illegal to both use and possess cannabis in France. France doesn’t even make a designation between personal possession and trafficking, meaning how a case is treated is determined by the amount of cannabis in question, and what the prosecutor decides. So, if a person happens to get caught with a bunch of marijuana for their own personal medical use, it could actually be determined as trafficking. Punishments range from fines of €3,750 – €75,000, and prison sentences of 1-5 years. Cultivation is also illegal as use and possession are illegal, and no medical program exists…yet.
Selling and supply crimes are always illegal, and in France a person can incur 5-10 years in prison, along with a fine. If an offender has been found to be part of a criminal organization for trafficking, they can face life in prison, and a €7.5 million fine.
In 2018, as more and more countries relaxed their cannabis policies, France stepped it up a notch, handing out on-the-spot fines to users. Something that started out as a test in small communities before being enforced as a federal policy. The fines certainly aren’t paltry, with those caught being forced to pay €200, although the amount can be decreased to €150 if paid within two weeks, and increased to €450, if left outstanding for over 45 days. Though the excuse for them is to curb drug violence, there isn’t much about such fines that would do this, making it much more likely as a play to grab money from citizens.
Interestingly, France falls into the industrial hemp loophole, something that is seen in many places due to contradictory or inconsistent cannabis laws. France never actually illegalized the production of hemp, and is the only Western European country that didn’t do this. While it didn’t produce much hemp in the last century, hemp production did increase again between 1993-2015, with half the hemp in Europe at that time originating from France, making France the second biggest hemp producer after China.
What this means is that there’s a lot of hemp around. And what we know about human nature (I feel pretty confident stating this as a fact) is that if something is available, and it’s desired, it’s going to be used. It might be illegal to ingest any form of cannabis in France, but there’s more than enough access to it for those who want it.

So, what’s the deal with medical?

As mentioned in the previous part, France hasn’t been all that quick to start a medical cannabis program. And, in fact, only just laid the framework for a medical cannabis pilot program last year. In October of 2020, the French Minister of Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran, signed a decree for a new medical cannabis pilot program in which France said it would provide medical cannabis for free to patients in need. Last summer, due to reactions to the coronavirus pandemic, the beginning of the program was pushed back from late 2020, to early 2021.
Will it benefit everyone in need? No, unfortunately not. Approximately 3,000 patients suffering from: chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer symptoms – or cancer treatment symptoms, palliative issues, and painful spasticity from multiple sclerosis or other comparable central nervous system disorders, would receive this free treatment.
The program is slated to run for approximately six months, which makes ostensibly more sensible than – for example – Ireland, which instituted a five-year pilot program, or Switzerland which started a 10-year program. In this way, France is acting much more pragmatically, expecting to get a decent answer in half a year. Considering how quickly the cannabis world changes, anything longer seems absurd. For the program, cannabis would be distributed as dry flower and oil.
This program is of interest to those requiring medications for their ailments, but it also seems to have another purpose. It was announced that specific companies could apply to supply this program, with the idea that whichever companies were chosen would be most likely to gain hold of the cannabis market upon an official medical legalization. Application requirements were published for any company or organization that wanted to participate in cultivating and supplying this cannabis, with a close date of November 24th for applications.

And the suppliers will be…

When it comes to cannabis, there’s what it can do for a person, and what it can do for a company. In France, the announcement of a pilot program wherein France will give away cannabis for free, got a lot of companies salivating at the mouth. In a country with no official cannabis policies, any legalization would mark the beginning of a legal industry, and any company to get its foot in the door first would likely rule the roost. Which made it big news when France just revealed which companies won the ability to do this.
The companies picked are not French-based, but will work with French-based companies. Which means, out the door, France might have just given its future market to foreign investment over local business. This is a much worse thing to do in a poor country where the locals require the work and money to survive. In France, it feels like less of a crime against humanity, but it’s still something of note. Anyway, the following companies will now provide the pilot program, and accept no money from doing it in the process, providing the cannabis at their own cost:
  • Althea and Little Green Pharma – both Australian based companies. Althea was authorized one lot as a substitute, and Little Green Pharma was authorized two lots as a main supplier, and one as a substitute.
  • Aurora Cannabis and Tilray – Both based out of Canada. Aurora was authorized three lots as a main supplier, Tilray was authorized two lots as a main supplier, and two as substitutes.
  • Panaxia – an Israeli-based company which was authorized two lots as a main supplier, and two as a substitute.
  • Emmac Life Sciences – a UK based company which was authorized for two lots as a substitute.
There is absolutely nothing guaranteeing that any of these companies will remain suppliers in the future. All companies that applied were analyzed according to their supply abilities, manufacturing practices, and final products. You’ll notice how no US companies were picked.
Every lot that is designated to a company has a specification. Three lots are THC dominant, three are balanced between THC and CBD, and three lots are CBD dominant. Each lot has a main supplier from the list above, and a substitute supplier also from above, each of which works with a local French company. The French companies working in tandem are: Ethypharm, Medipha Sante, Neuraxpharm France, Boiron, Intsel Chimos, and Laboratoires Bouchara Recordati.

Why I find France to be dicey

This part is admittedly my opinion, but I’ll give it anyway since I think it should be said. France certainly looks like the honorable gentleman, offering cannabis for free to those in need, but there’s another side to all this that shouldn’t be forgotten. France recently did something that doesn’t seem to be well understood by the public, is often glossed over in news articles, and which makes the country’s actions questionable on a grand level.
France recently went through with an entire legal battle with the EU over the ability to keep CBD products made by EU standards, from crossing EU borders into France. The case of France vs the EU came with a bunch of implications, as it was heard by the top court of the EU – the European Court of Justice (CJEU) – in Luxembourg, and essentially set case law concerning cannabis (at least as far as CBD) in the EU, as well as setting a precedent for any country attempting to make restrictions on cross-boarder trading within the EU. France, quite luckily, did not win. This not only made France have to accept CBD coming from other EU countries, it made CBD legal throughout the EU.
The case itself is super interesting, but it’s not the issue. That a country might stand up for its own beliefs or desires is not strange or weird in any way. The issue is that the entire time France was pushing this legal battle, and acting concerned about the dangers of CBD – which it never was able to show at all – it was allowing the pharmaceutical version to be sold. France never banned synthetic CBD, only natural CBD!! Synthetic CBD is essentially the same as its natural counterpart, but is made in a lab by massive pharmaceutical and biotech companies. France was ruling out local farmers and producers in order to sell the products of pharmaceutical companies, and pretending that the ban on CBD was out of fear for its citizens.
In this case the pharmaceutical company is GW Pharmaceuticals, and the product in question is Epidiolex. France never had a problem with CBD at all, it just fought a years-long legal battle to help out GW pharmaceuticals. Is it really a shock that a country that would pull this, would also immediately sell out its new industry to the highest global buyer over promoting the industry for its own citizens? Of course, it is possible France is using these companies merely to get information before dumping them and allowing its own companies to take over. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.


Can’t say it’s not progress that France will give away cannabis for free to patients in need. In fact, it’s a really great beginning that will hopefully be followed up on with a really great medical program. That France is a little bit sneaky when it comes to cannabis can be overlooked so long as it does the right thing by its people in the future. However, I tend to think an eye should always be kept on a country that spent years on a lawsuit to sell out its own people for the benefit of a pharmaceutical company. But that’s just me.

France Moves to Begin Cultivating Medical Cannabis

As of today, March 1, 2022, France has an official medical cannabis industry that is already seemingly anti-flower. What now?

March 1 may not go down in history as a revolutionary date in France—like, say, the July standbys such as Bastille or Independence Day—but it will still stand as a significant one in the world of cannabis.

The French government has finally seen the light and announced that medical cannabis is here to stay. They have, as a result, now agreed to a decree authorizing the medical cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of medical cannabis in the country as of today.

The move has been a long time coming, particularly given the forward motion of another large economy, Germany, which kicked off this process, albeit messily, in the spring of 2017. Nevertheless, several promises at a national level later, German confirmation of a recreational market in the offing (along with several other EU countries implementing one—see Malta and Luxembourg), not to mention COVID and a national lawsuit that ended up changing EU policy on CBD, the French have arrived.

Medical cannabis will, in the future, be cultivated in France, along with the establishment of a medical supply chain.

Now, as the Germans have already found out, the real fun begins.

Quelle Fromage!​

There are likely to be all sorts of contretemps over interpretation by an industry tired of endless loopholes. There are also going to be interesting challenges to a law clearly written to favor the pharmaceutical industry if not create a medically certified (EU-GMP) supply chain.

Here is the first twist. According to Article 2, the production, including cultivation, manufacture, transport, import, export, possession, offering, acquisition, and use of cannabis in France, are still prohibited unless a medical authorization has been specifically issued by the relevant authorities—in this case, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products.

Look for all the same issues in Germany, plus a few more, as the French now move to establish the domestic medical cannabis industry.

This means that the biggest public Canadian companies which have not already done so, are going to establish at least some kind of foothold in France. The national medical trial kicked off last year where corporate participants had to donate meds and equipment. It also means, no doubt, that there will be entries into the market by other pharmaceutical firms, if not a rush to set up domestic distribution companies (just as has already occurred in Deutschland).

What this all leaves very unclear however, is whether the French authorities will continue to accept flower cannabis as medicine. Given the language of the resolution, however, specifically “only growers who have contracted to supply their production (to a licensed and authorized manufacturer) may cultivate cannabis plants for the purpose of manufacturing medicines,” it appears that flower may be on the way out. Unless, of course, someone sues first.

What has France got Against Cannabis Flower?​

It seems very clear that whoever is writing official French cannabis policy right now failed to get the memo that France just lost a war on the banning of the CBD flower front.

In January, in fact, while trying to establish the regulatory environment for a CBD marketin the wake of both the Kanavape case and an EU decision on the matter, the French government was slapped down by the nation’s highest court (at least temporarily) when the authorities also tried to ban the sale of CBD flower.

Don’t think such a decision has gone unnoticed at any federal French agency. This is either sloppiness or, more realistically, a final attempt to cut off the flower discussion at a federal level for both THC and CBD.

Don’t expect the industry to sit this one out, particularly having just won several major victories.

Pharmaceutical Interests vs. the Rest of the Industry​

Here is the thing to remember. The forces arraigned against the plant are moving in lockstep, and this position is increasingly falling out with court challenges. Such legal showdowns are likely to be necessary everywhere, and France, so far, has been one prime example of that, and at an EU level.

That beats the record, so far, of other challenges launched from other sovereign countries in the bloc. See the failed attempts of the Spanish cannabis club industry last year at the same nosebleed level. In fact, so far, the Spanish industry (in direct comparison) has yet to succeed legally even at a federal one. Perhaps, unlike the French, the Spanish already have tried to cut off the entire recreational discussion by (so far) allowing a limited number of cultivation licenses.

Indeed, that is the strategy Germany tried to take—and ended up with large public Canadian companies instead, not to mention a new government which has been essentially forced into moving forward on recreational reform, no matter how slowly it is dragging its feet.

It is not clear who would move into this slot in France, but with cultivation footprints now firmly established in other EU countries (including Portugal, Denmark, and Deutschland) it is highly unlikely that these folks will be focused on domestic cultivation in France in quite the same way as they were back in 2017.

This is also what the French government intended. European leaders and regulatory agencies are so far not seeing cannabis as an economic development.

However, as history (including in France) has long taught, incremental moves in the face of an overwhelming political, medical, and social paradigm shift rarely hold the dam for long.

This development in other words, no matter how overdue, may not be exactly the storming of the Bastille, but, perhaps, will finally light the powder keg.

Vive la cannabis revolution!

French Senators Petition Macron’s Government For Urgent Cannabis Reform

OVER 30 senators from the Socialist, Ecologist and Republican group have called for the launch of a consultation process to introduce new laws to legalize cannabis in France.​

The co-signed letter from 31 senators, published in the Le Monde newspaper explores several options for the legalization of cannabis – and rejects the notion of decriminalization, saying it is a demagogue option, which will merely ‘perpetuate the existing ban’.

On August 10, Le Monde published the rallying call with the senators, saying it is time to face ‘reality head-on’. They went on to say the current situation is ‘unsustainable’.

The letter calls for the launch of a wide-ranging consultation that will culminate in proposing a new law to legalize cannabis for adult consumption in France.

Decriminalization ‘A Cynical And Populist’ Option​

Among the signatories are socialists Patrick Kanner, and David Assouline, senators from the North and from Paris, respectively.

The letter says: “Almost 18 million of our fellow citizens have used cannabis recreationally, according to a recent report by the National Assembly. Although it is banned, 1.5 million consume it regularly.”

The senators argue, therefore, that the legalization of cannabis is a social issue that public authorities must adopt and it is up to the Government to respond to the legitimate concerns that exist.

The letter contends that decriminalization is a ‘cynical and populist’ option; one that is ‘characterized by the maintenance of the prohibition with the elimination of the penalties incurred’.

And, they continue by saying decriminalisation merely ‘buys social peace with a certain cynicism’ and they go on to categorically reject this ‘demagogue and populist option’.

Protecting Country’s Youth​

In the letter, the senators present arguments in favour of another legalization.

The letter compares this legal measure with existing public policies for tobacco and alcohol or even gambling, adding that legalization will provide the means to act more effectively to better protect citizens and especially young people.

Ultimately, the senators believe that the state will be able to earn tax revenues from these markets and even claim to boost the economy, especially in the areas of justice and security forces.

In June 2019, 70 doctors, economists and other professionals wrote a column in L’Obs explaining why they wanted to legalize cannabis.

The Senate is the upper house of the French Parliament and sits alongside the lower chamber – the National Assembly. It is made up of 348 senators elected by part of the country’s local councillors and French citizens living abroad.

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