Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
France has not yet passed any legislation to legalize the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients. The country’s strict drug policy means patients who self-medicate are subject to the full extent of the law, which could entail a hefty fine and jail time.
Countries across Europe are seeing the benefits of cannabis and its medicinal uses, and medical marijuana programs are cropping up everywhere. This gives French patients hope that the government may soon change its staunch anti-cannabis stance. The first glimmer of hope for this came in 2013 when the Ministry of Health amended the Code of Public Health, allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis-based medications. However, even this is extremely limited.
Most nations with a medical marijuana program include a list of qualifying conditions. If a patient has one of these, they can apply for a medical cannabis card. However, France has no such program since medical marijuana is still illegal.
In 2013, the Code of Public Health was amended. Doctors are now able to prescribe one cannabis-based medication: Sativex. But, they can only write a prescription if the patient has multiple sclerosis (MS) and hasn’t responded to other forms of treatment. Specifically, their MS must be accompanied by:
Even though the Code of Public Health was amended to allow cannabis-based medications, receiving a prescription is tough. If a patient believes they meet the criteria, they should follow these steps:
Even if a patient goes through all the trouble of obtaining a Sativex prescription from a qualified physician, there is no guarantee a pharmacy will have the medication in stock. This has led many patients to travel to other nations where the use of cannabis is more lenient.
Marijuana is France’s most commonly used illicit drug. Even though the country has harsh penalties for possessing cannabis, the number of people who use it is on the rise. Some believe this is due to the illegality of the plant. Evidence from other nations suggests if France established a nation-run medical marijuana program, the number of illegal users would dramatically decrease.
The law does not protect patients who use marijuana medicinally in France. In other nations, patients with a valid medical marijuana card or prescription can possess cannabis without fear of prosecution. However, in France, anyone found with weed can be subject to severe penalties, including:
Some people found in possession of a small amount of marijuana aren’t prosecuted, but no one should count on this.
Pro-medical marijuana activist groups are diligently seeking change. They tirelessly petition lawmakers and ministers in France to rethink their stance. Already, the more liberal government officials have openly agreed they believe there should be a medical marijuana program. However, those on the other side of the issue remain unmoved.
As medical marijuana programs develop around Europe, many believe France won’t be far behind. Be sure to keep an eye on this issue with the help of MarijuanaDoctors.com. We provide information about changing legislature around the world. When France develops a cannabis program, we make sure visitors to our site are among the first to know.
Our abundant resources allow you to keep informed on this hot-button issue. The best way to promote change is by getting all the facts — that’s why we tackle other cannabis-related topics on our blog. Let us provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.