France has bowed to the inevitable. After several years of promising to normalize the discussion and not to do so, and in direct contrast to its German, Dutch, Danish, and even Swiss and Spanish neighbors, the country has finally given in that medical cannabis is at least theoretically effective.

The first attempt, delayed by much of 2020, was made public last fall when the European Commission decided that CBD is not a narcotic and when the WHO voted to remove cannabis from global Schedule IV status. The timing wasn’t accidental. The country’s ever-savvy political Machiavellian on the subject, President Emmanuel Macron, was late to cheer it on, just before the finish line of done and dusted. At the end of January, the country chose its finalists.

Regardless of the cynicism in the room, this is an important step – and not just for France – but a series of discussions that literally haunt the industry now, if not the full reform discussion across the EU if not elsewhere.

Why this process is different

Anyone who expects all of this to go smoothly and without major errors has obviously not paid attention to the disasters that have occurred everywhere so far when a country or region takes up the actual implementation of cannabis reform in some form. See the US state market, the Canadian national market, if not the embarrassing flaws inherent in both German medical and newer Dutch recreational activities.

However, there is evidence that the French actually watched.

The first fascinating difference, aside from the inclusion of non-Canadian companies, is that the tender offer required that company participants also bear any necessary costs for medicines and equipment.

The second is that the entire experiment will be made from products made elsewhere and imported into the country. This could potentially be an economic boon to emerging cannabis production in every country in the region, from Portugal to Greece. Just like in other places, such forward steps are not now taking place in a vacuum. And now, thanks to the pandemic, the idea of ​​including cannabis reform in a regional Green New Deal has caught on in several countries.

In other words, the French experiment is well timed regardless of the complications and headaches it will likely also result in doctors, patients and even the participating companies themselves undertaking further reforms, if not cultivations, across Europe. It starts with France itself, where draconian and persistent laws even on medicinal cannabis have thwarted widespread attempts to date. Unless explicitly stated, these rules are likely to be an obstacle this time too.

But everyone is watching. Starting with the fact that so many countries and companies are actually involved in the supply chain.

What’s next?

The next part should go relatively smoothly as France is recruiting for the participants (think even in the middle of a global pandemic and shutdown). Nor is this Europe’s first national cannabis study (see Denmark, if not Luxembourg recently, if not since 2017).

The “study” itself is also completely undisputed – see Germany next door, where the vast majority of the medical prescriptions approved by the health insurance company apply to diseases such as chronic pain and muscle spasms.

Long live France!?

Don’t expect the country to lead a cannabis revolution in the research he does. Once the medicinal effectiveness of the drug against at least chronic pain in the country is established, it is also likely that the considerable clout of the French pharmaceutical industry will pour into the mix (beyond the first steps, of course).

And that could mean a series of reforms just in France. Starting with a minimal decriminalization.

In addition, it certainly looks from the European, if not specifically German, side of the discussion that the French are giving the money. However, this process alone from one of the largest economies in the euro area will also help to sharpen the needle elsewhere in Europe – and could change the conversation elsewhere.

This starts across the channel in what is now Brexited Britain, where NHS guidelines have specifically removed chronic pain from the list of conditions for which cannabis can be prescribed from late 2019.

But this is far from the only place. North America is clearly on everyone’s lips. Starting with the participation of the companies involved in the French process.

Why are Europe’s medical studies so critical for North America?

Although cannabis leads the way in both medical reform and recreational reform, the idea that cannabis is a legitimate medicine that should be covered by health insurance lags across the American hemisphere. Private shopping is driving the market even in Canada with a far more comprehensive medical system than its American neighbors.

However, this in and of itself presents a terrible dilemma and problem for patients who still somehow have to find the money to pay for their prescriptions every month. Even in Germany, where the law was changed in 2017 to ensure statutory health insurance and a wide range of conditions, around 40% of applications for prescribing cannabis will be rejected from 2021. A Generation X woman with a range of disabilities became the first in the country to win her one year prescription right for dronabinol in a landmark legal challenge last fall. Everyone else is in a situation where you can catch as you wish.

In the US and Canada, however, the entire discussion has so far been controversial – for a number of reasons, including the fact that widespread studies in the US are still difficult to approve.

However, given widespread healthcare reform, certainly after Covid, data from the trial in France used by testing companies in the US and Canada could turn the tide elsewhere as well.

And that’s something you can be sure to break the cream cheese and champagne over.