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French Polynesia Votes to Repeal Medical Cannabis Laws

As reported by Newsweed

The Assembly of French Polynesia recently voted to repeal the law of January 5, 2023, which was intended to pave the way for the legalisation of medical cannabis. This decision, motivated by the complexity of implementing the original law, has sparked debate among the archipelago’s various political currents. Nevertheless, it should pave the way for a new, more rational and effective framework for medical cannabis in the region.

A step back to move forward with legalisation 

The assembly session focused on repealing the law of January 5, 2023, which initiated the legalisation of the medical use of cannabis in Polynesia, but which was deemed too complex to be implemented in time. It required numerous deliberations and decrees, and the absence of implementing regulations in the initial law rendered it null and void 1 year after its passage, hence the repeal.

TNTV reported that the repeal was a controversial issue, with the Tavini majority and A’Here ia Porinetia voting against the law described as a ‘gas factory’ by Moetai Brotherson, the President of French Polynesia. The complications of the original law were acknowledged by unaffiliated representatives, including Nicole Sanquer, who stressed the importance of depoliticising the process.

Despite expressing skepticism about the government’s motives, Ms. Sanquer voted in favor of repeal, stressing the urgency of addressing the reality of medical cannabis use in the country. She stressed the need for a more effective and targeted approach, echoing the feeling that the previous attempt had been more about electoral strategy than practical governance.

Medical cannabis and hemp

Moetai Brotherson’s government will now have to draw up a new text that will simplify the eligibility process, include traditional practitioners among those authorised to prescribe medical cannabis and authorise the import of cannabis-based medicines. The Minister of Health, Cedric Mercadal, has assured that the new draft text will be submitted before the end of December, with a presentation to the Assembly scheduled for January.

The government must also legislate on the establishment of a hemp industry, a challenge compounded by ongoing studies by the Institut Louis Malardé on the identification of local cannabis varieties. The future text on hemp could be aligned with that of mainland France and its maximum THC threshold for plants and products derived from them, i.e. less than 0.3% THC.

This strategic move is designed to facilitate implementation and address concerns about the unregulated use of cannabis products. Local associations are nevertheless campaigning for a 1% THC level in the plant, in view of the highly favourable climate for the development of cannabinoids in hemp.

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