Aurora Cannabis (TSX: ACB; NYSE: ACB) is among the major companies bidding to advance the case for medicinal cannabis reform in France.

It has signed up as a headline partner for an event called Cannabis Europa, which takes place in Paris on Feb. 8. It aims to attract business leaders from around the world to discuss how a future legal medical cannabis industry in France will work.

It follows news that the European nation, which has the sixth largest economy in the world, has approved an official study into the benefits of medicinal cannabis and it will be completed before the end of 2019. The French National Agency for Medicines was compelled to act after a government-appointed committee of scientific experts recommended that France legalize medicinal marijuana.

It is one of the only large European countries that has not permitted cannabis for medical purposes, and the global industry is keen to address that. “France has the potential to be a major player in the global medical cannabis market,” said Axel Gille, vice president EU business development at Aurora Cannabis.

A 2018 poll conducted by Ipsos suggested that 82% of French adults are in favour of medicinal marijuana being permitted. A similar situation arose in the UK after a number of high-profile cases of patients being denied cannabis, and the UK Home Office legalized it last year.

Cannabis Europa claims that a 2018 conference it held in London marked “a seminal turning point in a decades-long campaign by campaigners and patients alike” to effect a law change in Britain. It hopes to have a similar impact in France.

Cannabis Europa’s managing director, Alastair Moore, called the event “a catalyst for change. He argues that France should become a key strategic market for the European cannabis industry and that a large number of patients would benefit from a reform to its drug laws.

It is estimated that 700,000 French people use cannabis daily, and 1.4 million use it on a regular basis. Some campaigners see cannabis reform as an easy win for a French government that is currently besieged by the “yellow vest” protests, so medicinal cannabis legalization looks like a realistic prospect in 2019.

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