This Week in Weed – 2 June 2019


France to start medical cannabis experiment

An almost unanimous French Senate (pictured) has voted for France to start an ‘experiment’ legalising medical cannabis for an initial two years, pending the approval of the health ministry.

“There will be about two years of experimentation with therapeutic cannabis, beginning as soon as the health ministry gives the green light,” Professor Nicolas Authier, the head of pharmacology at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital Centre’s pain clinic, told FRANCE 24.

He said the move should begin within a few weeks. “We will probably need to import pharmaceutical products until a French supply chain is set up,” said Authier.

However, doctors will be permitted to prescribe it only as “a last resort, after trying other available therapeutic [pain] treatments”, said Authier.

In December 2018, the National Agency for the Safety of Health Products identified possible applications for medical cannabis: cancer, certain types of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, palliative care, and pain that does not respond to usual treatments.

“We will probably need to widen the scope of eligible illnesses,” said Senator Esther Benbassa of the Greens Party.

It is estimated that 11% of the French population aged 18 to 64 smokes cannabis, but recreational legalisation is not on the agenda.

Joint venture seeks to make UK Europe’s medical cannabis hub

Astral Health, an arm of ECH Group, has formed a joint venture with London-based pharmacy wholesaler Miller & Miller with the stated aim of improving patient access to medical cannabis and making the UK a gateway for cannabis suppliers into the rest of Europe.

The new joint venture claims it will source and distribute “high-quality medical-grade cannabis” from all over the world to patients in the UK and Europe as well as work with doctors and clinics to educate them on the types of products available.

Stephen Murphy, founder and managing director of ECH, said the joint venture could start importing bulk shipments, which should speed up the time it takes to fill patient prescriptions, which at the moment can take over a month, and bring the cost of the cannabis down.

“The UK is already a gateway to Europe for a lot of medicine and there is a phenomenal infrastructure here. Whether it becomes the cornerstone of cannabis imports is yet to be determined and will be dictated by volume and demand, but there is no reason why it could not.”

Canna Kitchen shut down

It was reported in the news this week that police shutdown The Canna Kitchen in Brighton earlier this month despite assurances from the police and trading standards that the CBD-infused products were legal.

Canna director Sam Evolution said that separately in March, a police officer from the Sussex constabulary visited the Canna Kitchen but said “he did not want to interrupt our business”.

The officer was given samples of the CBD products, including items of food, to take back to police headquarters for testing.

“The products taken included legal [lab-verified] full spectrum organic CBD oils, capsules, pastes, balms and beauty products. As well, there were CBD teas and coffees, chocolates, cakes, pet treats, hemp seeds and hemp flower,” said Evolution.

Two months later up to a dozen officers carried out searches at the restaurant, ejected customers and forced staff to remain in one room for four and a half hours, Evolution said.

A Sussex police spokesperson said the 11 May raid was part of an investigation into “money laundering and the supply of class B drugs” in Brighton. Evolution said the inquiry into money laundering had nothing to do with his business and was connected to a raid on other premises in Brighton. He said he could only conclude that the police targeted Canna “as a test case”.

Transform commented: “This is something that could have been dealt with as a civil licensing issue, rather than a criminal case,” said Danny Kuslick, the head of Transform’s external affairs.

“It may also demonstrate some significant confusion on all sides regarding the legality of the sale of hemp products for consumption, CBD and provision of medical cannabis. This is a situation that requires urgent clarification and guidance to reduce police involvement to a minimum.”

Zimbabwe approves first cannabis farm

Zimbabwe‘s government has approved plans for the country’s first cannabis farm and production plant.

According to reports, Ivory Medical, a Harare-based company, has secured a 10-hectare piece of land at the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services’ Buffalo Range prison in Chiredzi. It was chosen, supposedly, for the high security it will offer the project.

The company is reportedly preparing documents for an offer to lease 80 hectares at the remaining extension of Buffalo Range.

Zimbabwe made it legal to produce cannabis for medicinal and scientific uses last year.

CBD now allowed on flights in US

The Transport Security Administration in the US has updated its policy on what people can take aboard planes to include “products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the Food and Drug Administration are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018.”

The FDA and the US Department of Agriculture are developing their regulatory guidelines for hemp and its derivatives, and the FDA held its first public hearing on Friday.