Does fishing for right-wing votes justify going back on one’s word and contradicting a unanimous decision of the National Assembly? The question arises, given the delay taken by the government in setting up experimentation with therapeutic cannabis. “France is lagging behind”, underlined the deputy “Republicans” Robin Reda by presenting Wednesday the progress report of the fact-finding mission on the regulation and the impact of the various uses of cannabis, which he chairs. The rapporteur, the deputy for the Republic on the march of the Creuse, Jean-Baptiste Moreau, sounded the alarm: “We must move forward! It is an emergency for many patients. “
Authorized in December 2018 by the Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM), then voted in December 2019, experimentation with cannabis for medical use should have started this September. A cohort of 3,000 patients suffering from five types of serious illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis or certain forms of epilepsy, had to obtain cannabis in the form of oil or capsules to combat their pain. But nothing is ready.
In addition to the absence of a decree, many obstacles remain
The implementing decree, which should have been published several months ago, is still not. In June, the ANSM invoked the Covid-19 crisis to justify a postponement ” later ” in January 2021. The argument does not convince specialists. “The repeated postponement of the start of this experiment, for lack of an implementing decree, raises questions about the political will to really put it in place”, worried on September 9, in a forum, about fifty doctors and persons in charge of associations of patients.
“Even if the decree was published in September, I am not sure that we will be able to start in January”, recently explained to World Nicolas Authier, psychiatrist, pharmacologist and president of the temporary scientific committee responsible for supervising the experiment. In addition to the absence of a decree, many obstacles remain. No funding has so far been provided. It is however necessary “To pay for the purchase of the products used in this experiment and not to rely on donations from certain laboratories, which could create certain ambiguities and certain conflicts of interest”, underlines Jean-Baptiste Moreau. The National Assembly had moreover provided for its own budgetary allocation of 25 to 30 million euros. Another sticking point: the absence of legislation to authorize culture in France. It is however essential to the creation of a “Entirely French therapeutic cannabis sector”, which parliamentarians and professionals are calling for.
“What blocks it is the political will”, explained on September 9 to AFP Bertrand Rambaud, president of the Alternative therapeutic cannabis association. In these times of security escalation, medical cannabis is presented by some politicians as the Trojan horse of legalizing the substance. The recent exit of the Minister of the Interior, who said on September 14 “Absolutely against” legalization, moreover made Robin Reda react: “Gérald Darmanin is doing the debate a disservice by caricaturing it, he explained to Parisian. We can only regret it and reaffirm that everything is ready. All that remains is to act. “