French Polynesia Repeals Medical Cannabis Law: A Policy U-Turn
French Polynesia has taken a significant step back in its cannabis policy by voting to repeal the law enacted on January 5, 2023, which initially set the stage for the legalization of medical cannabis. This reversal, driven by the complexities involved in implementing the original law, has sparked varied reactions across political spectrums in the region.
The Complexity of the Original Law
The law, initially intended to legalize the medical use of cannabis in Polynesia, was deemed too intricate for timely implementation. Requiring extensive deliberations and decrees, the absence of implementing regulations within the initial law led to its nullification a year after its passage.
Political Dynamics and the Repeal
The decision to repeal the law was a point of contention, with the Tavini majority and A’Here ia Porinetia opposing the repeal, described by President Moetai Brotherson as a 'gas factory.' On the other hand, unaffiliated representatives like Nicole Sanquer stressed the need to depoliticize the process while acknowledging the need for a more effective approach to medical cannabis regulation.
Reactions to the Repeal
The repeal has been met with skepticism regarding the government's motives. Despite the criticism, some see it as a necessary step to develop a more rational and effective framework for medical cannabis in the region.
New Developments on the Horizon
Following the repeal, the government, under Moetai Brotherson, is tasked with drafting a new text to simplify the eligibility process for medical cannabis, including traditional practitioners among those authorized to prescribe, and allowing the import of cannabis-based medicines.
Upcoming Legislative Changes
The Minister of Health, Cedric Mercadal, has assured that the new draft will be submitted before the end of December, with a presentation to the Assembly scheduled for January. This rapid development signals the government's commitment to addressing the complexities of the original law.
The Hemp Industry in French Polynesia
Alongside medical cannabis, the government must also address the establishment of a hemp industry. Ongoing studies by the Institut Louis Malardé are identifying local cannabis varieties, which will influence the future legislation on hemp, potentially aligning with mainland France's THC threshold of less than 0.3%.
Local Varieties and THC Levels
Local associations are advocating for a 1% THC level in the plant, considering the region's favorable climate for cannabinoid development. This debate underscores the unique agricultural and environmental considerations in crafting cannabis-related policies.
- Repeal of the medical cannabis law of January 5, 2023
- Development of a new, more practical framework for medical cannabis
- Plans for the establishment of a hemp industry
French Polynesia's decision to repeal its medical cannabis laws reflects the ongoing global conversation around cannabis regulation. The region's next steps will be critical in determining how it navigates the complex interplay of health, agriculture, and law in the context of cannabis.