France has taken a step forward in cannabis regulation the United States should seek to emulate. Social Affairs and Health Minister Marisol Touraine asked for France to allow the use of medicines based in marijuana, not necessarily excluding raw marijuana plant.
Decree 2013-473 lifted a prohibition of all non-industrial use of cannabis, allowing the production, transport, export, possession, offering, acquisition or use of specialty pharmaceuticals that contain one of these (cannabis-derivative) substances.
Medicine such as Marinol or Sativex may not be the only things allowed by the new law. Minister Touraine is tasked with deciding how the law will be implemented, but as of yet the law does not exclude the raw cannabis plant.
Potentially the most important effect the law has is scientific.
“The law allows us above all to unblock the process of launching research into cannabinoids,” spokesperson for Pharmacists’ Union Philippe Gaertner said.
Gaertner warned it could be a long time before cannabis medicines would be available to consumers, as research must be extensive. One of the greatest roadblocks to legalization is the complete lack of understanding of the complex substances in cannabis plants and how they react with the human body (and other bodies). The almost worldwide prohibition of cannabis has censored knowledge of its potential usefulness and yes, even its negative effects, for a century and has reduced users to relying on anecdotal evidence to guide them.
It might be some time before effective medicines with cannabis hit the market in France, let alone the United States. But the positive effects of France’s new law may be available much sooner, as soon as we can finally be properly educated.