France Approves First Cannabis-Based Drug

French multiple sclerosis patients will be able to use Sativex, an oral spray

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Commercial sales of medicine derived from cannabis were authorized by France’s drug safety agency for the first time, the Associated Press reports.

France’s health ministry said sales of Sativex, used as a mouth spray prescribed by a physiotherapist or neurologist, would be allowed for up to six months’ treatment of muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. It contains cannabidiol and delta 9-THC, two of marijuana’s best known components.

The medicine, produced by British company GW Pharmaceuticals and to be sold in France by Almirall, has already launched in 11 countries and been approved in more than a dozen others. It’s still at least a year away from entering the French market; another cannabis-based drug called Dronabinol is legally available for relieving chronic pain, but only about 100 people currently use it.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine signed an order in June allowing the manufacturers of cannabis-derived medicines to seek approval from the national health agency to sell their products. The decision comes after Uruguay recently legalized medicinal marijuana and Colorado became the first U.S. state to allow and open legal recreational pot shops.

[Associated Press]