After his first 100 days as president, Moetai Brotherson announced this week that the project to legalise CBD in Polynesia was ready.
The bill, known as article LP3, establishes an innovative framework for the use and importation of hemp. Article LP3 authorises the Polynesian population to “transport, import, export, hold, offer, transfer, acquire, process and use products containing or derived from hemp seeds”. These products must be “devoid of narcotic properties”, i.e. their THC content must currently be less than 0.3%.
In Polynesia’s tropical climates, however, cannabis plants produce an excess of phytocannabinoids, making it difficult for the local industry to maintain the 0.3% THC threshold set by French standards.
The Polynesian Hemp Syndicate, led by its president Philippe Cathelain, has called for this threshold to be raised to 1%, taking into account local conditions. This recommendation stems from a fact-finding mission by the French National Assembly, which stressed the need for tolerance in overseas territories, as is already the case for Réunion.
The new legislation has three key components. In addition to the legalisation of CBD, the Ministry of Agriculture has drawn up a second text covering the cultivation and processing of hemp. But the most eagerly awaited aspect is the third, concerning medical cannabis. Beyond the anti-stress properties of CBD, health professionals are particularly interested in the pain-relieving potential of THC.
Philippe Dupire, a pharmacist at the Centre Hospitalier de Polynésie Française, tells TNTV that THC can be invaluable in treating intractable pain and neurological diseases such as epilepsy. However, the text specifies that products containing hemp or cannabinoids can only make therapeutic claims if they obtain authorisation as medicines.
Currently, only three cannabis-based medicines are available in mainland France, and this new legislation will allow them to be imported into Polynesia.
The legislation provides for exceptions for certain medicines, allowing their use “on an exceptional basis” when “the implementation of the treatment is likely to be of benefit to the patient” and “the efficacy and safety of these medicines are strongly presumed in the state of scientific knowledge”.
The Polynesian Council of Ministers will draw up a list of these exceptional medicines, which will probably include cannabis extracts and flowers.
The full bill is expected to be released to the public “in the next few days”.