Medical cannabis: “the government is kicking in, while patients suffer” according to Dr Pascal Douek

Medical cannabis: “the government is kicking in, while patients suffer” according to Dr Pascal Douek

In a column published this Thursday, September 28, 17 patient associations are calling for the legalization of medical cannabis “from next year”, following the current experiment. But the current government seems to be turning a deaf ear. Dr Pascal Douek, a former general practitioner, suffering from multiple sclerosis and participating in this experiment, admits to us his incomprehension.

There are 3,000 patients in Europe suffering from serious pathologies who have been experimenting with medical cannabis, or therapeutic cannabis, since 2021 to relieve their daily lives. The official objective put forward, in the event of satisfactory results, was clear: join other European countries in the legalization of medical cannabis, and finally allow patients an alternative to ineffective treatments. But after an initial extension of the experiment, which will end next April, nothing has been decided today, and no mention of this subject appears in the Social Security financing bill for 2024. absence which today provokes a reaction. Seventeen patient associations are launching this Thursday, September 28 in the columns of Le Parisiena call to public authorities to ensure the entry into common law of medical cannabis from next year.”

A political reluctance that takes precedence over health

While according to these associations the draft text “is ready and it is on the table”, why do those first concerned seem to be left aside? Dr. Pascal Douek, one of the active members of this forum, discusses a primarily political problem:

“We are one of the last countries in Europe to launch into medical cannabis. We also entered it through the back door, that of experimentation to start in a framework which does not change anything on the legal level. And when everything is ready, we face only political reluctance. François Braun, who inherited the subject last year, kicked in and proposed an extension. Today, Aurélien Rousseau (new Minister of Health) is taking up the file and confronting the Ministry of the Interior which has declared war on cannabis since 2020 and does not understand medical cannabis. There is a conflict of interest when medical cannabis does not concern the interior, but remains a health issue.

A continuing lack of knowledge of medical cannabis

The different governments have therefore confused recreational cannabis and medical cannabis for too many years according to the doctor.

“It’s a lack of understanding of the subject. When we talk about medical cannabis, we are addressing patients who have serious pathologies with disabling symptoms, such as neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, severe epilepsy, advanced cancers or even people in palliative care. We’re not talking about people smoking firecrackers to relax! In addition, we now know that the experiment presents excellent results on ⅔ of suffering patients. These elements should generate a desire to continue towards generalization and simplification of prescriptions. But we are faced with the social security financing plan and it is clear that nothing is planned in this regard!”

What recourse is available for these patients?

Today, to prevent these relieved patients from being left behind at the end of the experiment, platforms are beginning to be raised, invested health professionals who see the benefit in their patients are also giving their voice. But this will probably not be enough to generalize medical cannabis.

“The experimentation was a bubble which allowed us not to face the legal aspects. But the marketing of cannabis is quite simply prohibited. Today, legislative work is needed to bring these cannabis-based products into common law , so that they have a well-defined status. For the moment, they have no status so they do not exist. What we want is an amendment to finally authorize the use of certain products in a context well defined”.

A “health” decision that could change the lives of many suffering French people. According to Dr. Pascal Douek, if medical cannabis were open to all people who really need it, this could provide relief to around 300,000 patients who are currently suffering.