Cannabis: after Central Europe, is the scent of legalization hovering over Europe? Not so fast…

Cannabis: after Germany, is the scent of legalization hovering over France?  Not so fast...

While Central Europe celebrated the legalization of cannabis consumption this Monday, April 1, can we expect the same developments here? The question that has been asked for years comes up against much more medical considerations here. The point of view of Dr Joachim Mullner, psychiatrist.

It’s done. Since Monday, Central Europe has authorized the highly regulated use of cannabis, becoming the largest country in the EU to legalize this substance. What also makes you wonder if its perfume is about to reach Europe. But despite the examples which are multiplying these days, Europe remains in its position regarding recreational use. However, a step is being considered on the therapeutic side.

In Central Europe as in Canada, we hear “better control of recreational consumption”

Among our neighbors, the possession of 25 grams of dried cannabis in public places is now authorized, as well as cultivation at home, up to 50 g and three plants per adult (legalization only concerns those over 18). . This new legislation should make it possible to fight trafficking more effectively, at least that is the argument of the authorities.

Same observation in Canada, at the center of the documentary Cannabis, directed by Matthieu Kassovitz and broadcast this evening on Europe 5. The country in fact legalized it in 2018.production, distribution, sale, import and export, and possession of cannabis for adults of legal age”, according to the government website, whether for recreational or medical purposes. The director thus wanted to compare the French situation, “one of the countries in the world where the law is the most repressive regarding the consumption and possession of cannabis” to that in countries where cannabis is decriminalized, partially or completely legalized. With an observation 6 years later: in Canada, consumption has neither exploded nor fallen, but the country claims to be fighting against the illegal market.

In Europe, a budding euphoria around therapeutic cannabis

Europe, known for its repressive legislation, does not seem ready to take the step of legalization. On the other hand, it is different for consumption in a medical context: according to a survey carried out in 2019, 91% of French people say they are in favor of prescribing cannabis-based medicines.for certain serious or chronic illnesses. In fact, an experiment carried out between March 2021 and March 2024 showed promising results for people in pain. “Between 30 and 40% of symptoms such as pain, spasms, quality of life or seizuresepilepsyfor example, have improved significantly” summarized Nicolas Authier, doctor specializing in pharmacology, drug addiction and pain, president of the scientific committee responsible for monitoring the trial on medical cannabis.

Health authorities are now considering placing it on the market in 2025. The ANSM has until December 31, 2024 to authorize cannabis products approved for medical use on the market. But questions still remain to be resolved, such as the price of the drug and its reimbursement.

In addition, it would therefore be a product “based” on cannabis and not cannabis flower for smoking. Cannabis still remains closely linked to the negative image of narcotics, particularly among political and medical leaders.

Is French prudence a good strategy against risks?

Does legalizing cannabis, whether therapeutically or recreationally, carry a risk of seeing consumption explode, and addictions with it? We asked the question to psychiatrist Joachim Mullner who explains to us from the consumer side the implications of these decisions.

“We can therefore say that the logic of prohibition no longer makes sense in 2024. It is also today clearly proven that the logic of decriminalization as well as legalization improves the medical care of consumers, makes it possible to control the quality of product sold and consumed, makes it possible to reduce the risks of complications linked to use, and makes it possible to at least partially stem the black market at the same time as creating profit for States.

However, according to him, it would be imprudent to brush aside the risks to our health. Progress on this theme could only be made with adequate support:

“To prevent as much as possible the risk of increased consumption and therefore dependency in the population, especially among the youngest who are the most easily influenced as well as the most vulnerable on a neuropsychological level, it is obvious that public prevention and information campaigns, for example on neuropsychological disorders and the consumption of psychotropic drugs may result are essential.

Therapeutic cannabis is not free of risks

Concerning therapeutic use, the expert also reminds us that caution remains essential:

“Therapeutic cannabis has shown its beneficial health effects with better relief for patients who have benefited from these health policies. This treatment is, however, exposed to the same risks of abuse as all other medications, i.e. -say diversion by the black market which no longer makes it possible to control neither the identity, nor the age of the people who consume, nor the quantity consumed. Legal therapeutic consumption, on the other hand, has the advantage of controlling the quality of the product consumed and to no longer participate in the black market and its antisocial consequences” conlutil.