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Progress of the project of creation of a French network of production of therapeutic cannabis

On August 18, 2021, the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) set up a temporary specialized scientific committee (CSST) composed of 13 members in view of the future French cultivation of medical cannabis, named "Cultivation in France of cannabis for medical use - technical specifications of the production chain from the plant to the medicine". What are the stakes?

An opening context for medical cannabis

Remember that French law strictly prohibits the use and production of cannabis, without distinguishing between those for therapeutic purposes and others, on its territory.

However, following a decree of October 7, 2020, first experiments, committing the availability of therapeutic cannabis reserved for five cases of serious pathologies, have been authorized. The five indications concerned are pain refractory to therapy, severe epilepsy and drug resistance, support in oncology, painful spasticity related to multiple sclerosis and palliative situations.

In addition, another decree, with the aim of legitimizing the request for authorization and supervision, under certain conditions, of a medical cannabis culture in France, is being validated.

This experimentation carried out on 3,000 patients with serious diseases, in a very controlled setting, will extend over two years, starting on March 26, 2021, the day of the first trial. The selected people will be treated throughout the test with medical cannabis in the form of oils, capsules or even dried flowers, which they will inhale by vaporization.

The role of the new specialized scientific committee

This new CSST will be composed of representatives of the ministries involved, namely, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of the Economy, the Ministry of Agriculture; representatives of the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) and the National Council of the Order of Pharmacists (CNOP).

Other participants, such as experts in plants for medicinal use as well as the President of the Scientific Committee for the Monitoring of the Experimentation of the Use of Medical Cannabis currently in place, are also intended to be part of this CSST, having for vocation to evaluate and give its opinion on the THC and CBD contents of the plants as well as on the variety of the latter, at the end of a four-month period.

Members will also have to define the modalities of traceability of the plants, from the beginning of the process to the harvesting of the flowers but also of the pharmaceutical forms of cannabis-based medicines. Finally, they will have to define the quality criteria necessary for the cultivation of cannabis for therapeutic use on French soil. The official appointments of these so-called members and their first meeting are scheduled for next September.

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