France, a country with one of the highest rates of cannabis consumption in the world, is finally exploring the regulation of medical cannabis.

In the last six months, the Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn indicated that the government has admitted that France has fallen behind on research on medical cannabis, and is evaluating whether it will make medical cannabis available. Additionally, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicine and Health Products (ANSM) set up a committee to evaluate “the relevance and the feasibility of the provision of medical cannabis in France.”  

If the government decides to progress the country’s medical cannabis laws, France will be in a strong position to become a major actor in this emerging industry. However, this transition, like any major policy change, is difficult to initiate. As we have seen across the globe, bringing medical cannabis online requires informed decision-making, understanding of the major challenges and access to credible expertise. 

What better place to tease out the issues francophone markets may face than the Maison de la Chimie (House of Chemistry), an institution in the heart of Paris, committed to partnering top-level scientists with decision-makers to foster science-based solutions for society?

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Maison De La Chimie – Celebrating Scientific Excellence and Exploration

Maison de la Chimie is a complex that accommodates scientific conferences and houses world-renowned scientific institution, Fondation de la Chimie. We had the pleasure of speaking to the Foundation’s president, Bernard Bigot, a man particularly familiar with efforts around introducing science into the policy process. 

“The Foundation was created in 1927 to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Marcelin Berthelot, innovator in applied chemistry industry who dreamed of a world where science could meet the challenges of global health or hunger,” recounts Mr. Bigot. “The Foundation continues this mission, which is why our House is a place where your venture is legitimate.”

Mr. Bigot’s personal take on medical cannabis – a topic, he admits, he is not familiar with – is that of a true scientist:

“You have to be open to all opportunities. A scientist cannot say, ‘That, I do not want to explore.’ If your event demonstrates that it is possible to clearly identify and distinguish medical uses under controlled medical conditions, that’s completely in line with the mission of the Foundation.”

Science at the Heart of the Medical Cannabis Industry

Until recently, there was very little scientific evidence and data on cannabis available. “Much of the research is only 10 years old,” Dr. Henry Fisher, Chief Scientific Officer for Cannabis Europa explains. “Then, you have to consider the time between that research being published and it actually having impact on doctors, patients and policymakers. It really feels like we are entering an era where science is gaining in importance.” 

Scientific activity around cannabis, says Dr. Monica Vialpando, founder of Vialpando LLC,  “integrates many specialties, ranging from genetics, cultivation, extraction, dose controlled formulations and product stability. The integration of these scientific disciplines is necessary to maximise and secure the patient’s experience, as well as the medical potential of cannabis.”

“Chemistry plays an integral role in the cannabis industry,” adds Dr. Vialpando. As cannabis contains more than one hundred cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, amino acids, and proteins, there are “endless medically useful combinations from this polypharmacy, opening up the potential to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. This makes the cannabis plant a more potent medicine when compared to a single molecule active pharmaceutical ingredient.“  

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“The challenge of establishing the responsible regulation of medical cannabis is related, above all, to the detailed understanding of the subject needed by lawmakers and medical staff. This knowledge is key to understanding what these products are, what they are effective for, what they are not for, and regulating them appropriately,” explains Dr. Fisher.

Wider knowledge of simple facts, notes Dr. Vialpando, for example that “the majority of cannabinoids have little to no noticeable psychoactivity,” could “greatly enhance the understanding and acceptance of cannabis based medicines among doctors and physicians.” According to Dr. Fisher, the biggest challenge is to ensure that the regulation put in place “is not simply a smoke screen for non-medical use, while integrating sufficiently large and scalable access to optimally meet the needs of all the patients.”

The Impact of Cannabis Europa in the UK

In May 2018, Cannabis Europa brought together, for the first time, industry-leading players and the most influential political and scientific actors in the UK. Just months later, the British government announced the establishment of a regulatory model for a market that is predicted to be worth €8.8 billion by 2028. Cannabis-based medicinal products will be available to patients for the first time on a large scale in the UK as of November 1, 2018. Projections for a similar French medical cannabis market in the same time frame amount to €8.9 billion. 

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“It genuinely felt like the event was a watershed moment for the industry in the UK and Europe. Serious professionals with impressive backgrounds from across the world came together in London and collectively said ‘we’ve got something here, it’s time for the government to take notice of what we are saying because it has the potential to change the world.’”

Dr. Monica Vialpando on her experience at Cannabis Europa London

Join us February 8th 2019 

Join European and French policymakers, academics, scientists, global cannabis companies, and all interested on February 8th 2019 at the Maison de la Chimie for a day of illuminating talks and exchange of ideas on this burgeoning industry.  

Just a stone’s throw from the National Assembly, Cannabis Europa is honoured to be welcomed by the Maison de la Chimie to set the stage for conversations that will shape this turning point in the European cannabis space. 



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