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France may legalise cannabis-based MS medicine

media Cannabis plants Getty Images/Christopher Furlong

France is considering legalising a cannabis-based medicine. It would be the first time the use of the drug for therapeutic purposes would be permitted by French law.

Some doctors say that legalising the pain-killing muscle spray, known as Sativex, would be a big step forward for patients suffering from a wide range of conditions.

The commercial sale of drugs containing cannabis is currently banned in France but Health Minister Marisol Touraine has asked the national pharmaceutical control body, ANSM, to examine the case for authorising the sale and use of Sativex.

The drug is a nasal or mouth spray that can bring relief to multiple sclerosis sufferers.

It is already available in most European countries, including Spain and the United Kingdom.

The current law would have to be amended to allow Sativex to be distributed.

Marisol insists that it is not a step towards the decriminalisation of cannabis, although the Greens, a junior party in the ruling coalition, are in favour of the move and Education Minister Vincent Peilon last year outraged the right by saying he was in favour of a debate on the question.

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