Source: Ludovic Brodusch

Last update: 13 October 2008


Regarding drug laws, Cannabis is prohibited since 1925 (Geneva Convention / 1961 ONU Convention). It disappeared from the French pharmacopoeia in 1953. This status has not changed since then. Its use, importation, sell, transportation and production are strictly prohibited. Thus, Cannabis, and its Cannabinoids derivatives, are not allowed for medical use in France.

Nevertheless, since 1999, the French Security Agency for Health Products (AFSSAPS) has the authority to deliver nominative or cohort authorization ATU (Temporary Utility Authorization) for health products. ATU concerns products that are not authorized on the French market. In 2008, ATU for Cannabinoids containing products was only possible for Marinol® (dronabinol).

Court Rulings

In May 2001, Paris administrative court rejected a request of the MLC (Movement for Controlled Legalisation) concerning the importation of 10 Kg of cannabis to relieve pains of 10 patients suffering from incurable diseases. Rejection arguments were the incompatibility of the demand with ONU 1961 Convention and the incapacity of the MLC to scientifically and administratively control the medical use of cannabis.

In September 2002, a 50 years old patient, suffering HIV for 17 years, was condemned to 10 months prison suspended sentence for having growing 34 plants.

In 2002, Papeete (Tahiti) law court acquitted a 55 years old paraplegic patient. He was initially condemned for the growing of 350 cannabis plants. The law court based its request on the article 122-7 of the penal code which specifies: "is not guilty a person who, facing a real danger, accomplish an act in order to protect himself".


Since 2001, 74 nominative ATU for dronabinol have been delivered. ATU requests have doubled between 2001 and 2002, but are on a decline since 2003.

ATU for dronabinol were delivered for the following conditions:
- Pains resistant to standard treatments (41)
- Inflammatory affection of the nervous system (12)
- Unverricht-lundborg disease (8)
- Appetite, nauseas (7)
- Tourette Syndrome (3)
- Dystonia resistant to standard treatments (8)
- Paroxystic pains (1)
- Total (74)

20 ATU were refused for the following conditions:
- Pains resistant to standard treatments (12)
- Secondary spasticity due to Multiple Sclerosis (3)
- Painful spastic paraparesia (3)
- Appetite, nauseas (1)
- Chronic pains (1)

Since 2001, the 8 ATU requests for Sativex® have been refused.