A committee of French medical experts interviewed representatives from some of the world’s largest cannabis companies today as the country mulls over medicinal cannabis legalization.

The marathon session lasted 4 hours and 48 minutes and it was streamed live on YouTube for anyone interested in developments. Canadian firms Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, and Tilray were joined by U.S. company Columbia Care, Bedrocan of the Netherlands, Clever Leaves of Colombia, and British firm Emmac Life Sciences at the hearing.

The companies’ executives answered a wide range of questions on the medicinal benefits of cannabis, the dosages required, delivery methods, the costs involved and how France might be able to develop a framework for a legal medicinal marijuana trade.

France is one of the only major nations that is yet to legalize medical cannabis use after Germany, the UK, Italy, and the Netherlands all rolled out regulated industries.

The French Ministry of Health is in favour of medicinal marijuana. Towards the end of 2018, the French government authorized this committee of 13 independent healthcare experts to conduct an official study into the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

After digesting the submissions from Aurora, Canopy Growth et al, this committee of experts will meet on June 26 to thrash out a potential framework for a French medicinal cannabis scheme. When that draws to a close, the committee – led by psychiatrist and pharmacologist Nicolas Authier – will present its opinions to the French Agency for Drug Safety (ANSM).

The health agency will take the recommendations on board, although it has already pledged to start a medicinal cannabis trial this year.

France has the world’s sixth largest economy, behind only the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, and the UK, so it represents a significant potential market for the global cannabis industry.

The committee has already indicated that it is in favour of permitting medicinal cannabis. However, it is not keen on French patients smoking marijuana, so concentrates would dominate the industry if medicinal marijuana is permitted.

The European medicinal cannabis market is forecast to be worth €58 billion ($65.6 billion) by 2028, according to a report from Prohibition Partners. Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are expected to lead the charge, but France could become a major player if the government gives it the green light.

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