France Legalizes Medical Marijuana Use

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France Legalizes Medical Marijuana Use

The French government legalizes medical marijuana use and the decision sends shares of US-based Green Micro Cap Stocks Soaring.

London, UK -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/12/2013 -- While French geographers were busy mapping global sex habits, the French government issued a decree legalizing the use of the ultimate social lubricant, Marijuana.

The French government published the new decree, #2013-473, legalizing the use of medical marijuana in its Official Journal on June 6th 2013 and shares of US-based export oriented micro cap pharmaceutical companies active in the space just soared.

The decree, which authorizes the National Security Agency of Medicines and Health Products, the French equivalent of the FDA, to give the green light to drugs containing cannabis or its derivatives, marks the first step to the full legalizing of therapeutic use of Cannabis.

Patients with multiple sclerosis will be the first to receive such medications and patients with AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy who experience loss of appetite are believed to be second in line.

Marisol Touraine, the French Minister of Health, has vowed, back in February, to examine the case of Bayer' (OTCMKTS:BAYRY) Sativex, which was approved in the UK, Spain, Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Sweden but yet to be approved in France.

Sativex (Nabiximols), which was developed by UK based GW Pharmaceuticals (OTCMKTS:GWPRF), is a spray which allows for the relieve of pain and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. The product is licensed to Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) for the Asian market, excluding Japan and China and is currently being developed, in Phase III, in the US by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals.

The French policy regarding drug use has always been prohibitive, a legacy from the days when Charles Pasqua, a known partisan of a repressive zero tolerance attitude towards cannabis use, was the Minister of the Interior.

Both the official policy and the drug law of 1970 are quite severe: every use, no matter the circumstances, is liable to penalty. Since Sativex was approved at a European level such policy was in violation of the Maastricht Treaty, which stipulates for the free movement of people and goods across the 27 EU members.

There has been an intensifying debate, which started back in 1994, on French drug policy and several committees and organizations declared themselves in favor of decriminalizing cannabis use, the most notable was the Henrion Commission which was charged with the task of reconsidering French drug policy.

The French government, however, did not seem to be willing to take a more liberal stance towards cannabis use and, instead, increased penalties for drug law violations.

The maximum penalties for cannabis use are a sentence from two months up to a year and/or a fine. Buying and selling cannabis fall under a different code than that for drug possession and are considered more serious criminal offences that are in most cases prosecuted.

In practice the application of the law, for a large degree, depends on how the head prosecutor has defined the policy in his district. Given the fact there are 180 district courts in France, the country could be seen as having 180 different drug policies.

To the French, Marijuana, in most cases, means Moroccan hash. Approximately 80% of the cannabis available on the French market is hash from Morocco. Hash from other countries such as Afghanistan, Lebanon and Pakistan has been available until a few years ago, however, it has become scarce of late.

Marijuana is quite uncommon and is usually sourced from the Netherlands, the Caribbean or from a couple of small scale local producers in the South of France.

According to figures from OCRTIS, which collects data from the national police and customs, an average of 60,000 kilos of cannabis is intercepted every year, mostly from Morocco.

Unfortunately very few good epidemiological studies have been performed in France on the prevalence of cannabis use and most information available on this subject is based on ad hoc surveys.

According to a recent survey conducted by Delphi Associates, the influential market research firm author of the popular “US Medical Marijuana Market Report”, there are approximately 6 million French people, from the age group 15-45, that have reported a one time use of cannabis.

The figure represents less than 10% of the total population, however, the study mentions that the prevalence of one-time-use can be as high as 30% among people in the 18-34 age groups.

It was the French historian Fernand Braudel who first offered a coherent way to understand the world. In his book, "Civilization and Capitalism", he explained how national economies are globally interlinked.

With a total population of over 65 million and a nominal GDP of $2.6 trillion in 2012, France is the second largest economy in Europe and a leading influencer of European Union policies.

Delphi Associates analysts believe that this decision, by a European country of such a magnitude and political clout, could bode positively for export oriented US companies active in the space.

AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) which markets synthetic THC cannabinoid Marinol (dronabinol), Cannabis Science Inc. (OTC:CBIS) which develops cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical products, GreenGro Technologies (PINK:GRNH) which develops indoor agricultural science systems, GrowLife Inc (OTC:pHOT) which operates specialty hydroponics stores, HEMP INC (PINK:HEMP) which runs one of the most recognized internet verticals in the space, Phytiva (PINK:XCHC) the newly launched phyto-pharmaceuticals brand of hemp-based products, Terra Tech Corp (OTC:TRTC) which specializes in indoor hydroponics, TranzByte Corporation (PINK:ERBB) which manages several medical marijuana dispensaries and Medical Marijuana Inc (OTCMKTS:MJNA), all come to mind.
 
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