Aurora Cannabis (ACB 1.33%) and Tilray (TLRY) were among a handful of international marijuana producers chosen to participate in a new French medical marijuana experiment.

The National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety (ANSM) is trialing a small-scale, 18- to 24-month program to supply patients with medical marijuana free of charge. Partnering with a France-based pharmaceutical establishment, producers will supply up to 3,000 patients with free product while complying with pharmaceutical standards, including Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

The experimental program was announced in October 2020 and is expected to begin by March 31, the costs for which will be borne by the suppliers. Suppliers will not be compensated for their participation either.

Lab technician placing marijuana in test tube

Image source: Getty Images.

Playing catchup in marijuana

Tilray said its products are being supplied to French patients for whom existing treatments do not provide sufficient relief from their symptoms, as well as for therapeutic indications, such as neuropathic pain, epilepsy, certain persistent symptoms in cancer and anti-cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other indications.

Both Tilray and Aurora have been chosen as main suppliers for the program, but Tilray will also serve as a backup supplier in the event of a shortfall. Two other cannabis producers, Israel's Panaxia, and the U.K.'s Emmac Life Sciences, were also chosen as suppliers, though Emmac will only serve as a substitute for shortfalls. Panaxia will be both a main supplier and backup.

The program was begun after France was accused of falling "alarmingly behind" in the administration of medical cannabis even though legislators had approved the experiment in 2019.

Because France has yet to develop a domestic source of medical marijuana, the program is relying upon foreign sources of cannabis for the experiment.