With a population of nearly 67 million, the country of France represents a significant portion of the European population as well as economic activity. When I think of France, the notions of romanticism, appreciation for art and aesthetic, and perhaps a penchant for suffering come to mind.
What with widespread reports of cannabis use as an augmenter of the libido, a creativity-enhancer, and a palliative for all manner of suffering, you would think the French would be all over cannabis legalization.
As it turns out, the strongly Catholic country has not jumped on board with legalization and has, in fact, been one of Europe’s most ardent supporters of drug prohibition laws generally. Though the country did nominally legalize medical cannabis in 2013, it has only done so for patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). On top of that, the only cannabis-based medicine which has received approval by the French National Agency for Drug Safety is Sativex, a cannabis spray produced by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals. Sativex received authorization for sales in Fance in 2014, but the price of the drug and the small number of MS patients who could use the medicine have prevented its availability.
“According to the official figures from the High Authority of Health, between 8,000 and 10,000 patients could have been helped with the Sativex, representing only 10 percent of the MS patients in France. Because of this, the Authority recommended a medical reimbursement of 15 percent, leaving the remaining 85 percent of the cost at the expense of the patients, though such drugs are usually reimbursed at least at 80 percent in France.
“In addition to these recommendations, the National Agency for Drugs, dependent on the Ministry of Health, wanted to negotiate a low price with the distributor of Sativex in France, Almirall.
“For comparison, in Germany Sativex is sold around € 330 for a 20-day treatment. For the French market, the French Economic Committee for Health Products asked for a price of € 60, which Almirall did not accept. Since then, negotiations have been deadlocked.”
I feel like there is an easy solution here…hmm, let’s see…what could it be?
France’s next door neighbor Germany has moved forward with a greatly expanded medical cannabis law in the past year, and French patients might have to start jumping the border. Allowing French patients access to all forms of cannabis would be a good start for the country, and allowing patients across a spectrum of ailments to use cannabis as a safe alternative to other pharmaceuticals would be a just and moral decision. By allowing this type of access to patients in Germany, health insurers in that country are now able to cover cannabis costs, thereby opening markets, creating new industry, and most importantly, helping patients.
Let’s home Germany can lead the way on medical cannabis in the European Union and elsewhere. Something tells me that most of the French don’t actually like suffering as much as the movies make it out to be.
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