Aurora sends first shipment of ‘free’ marijuana to France

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A subsidiary of Edmonton, Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis delivered its initial shipment of medical marijuana to France for use in the country’s pilot program, the company announced Wednesday.

The program is reportedly set to start serving medical cannabis to patients at no charge in the coming weeks.

Aurora was among companies from Australia, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom chosen to provide products, in partnership with French pharmaceutical distributors, for up to 3,000 patients.

The medical marijuana is being supplied by participating companies at their own cost, and neither the government nor patients will have to pay for it.

“The first prescriptions of dried medical cannabis as part of the French pilot program are a significant step toward providing access to patients and will support the destigmatization of medical cannabis in France,” Aurora CEO Miguel Martin said in a statement.

The company’s Danish subsidiary, Aurora Nordic, is producing the dried flower. It will be transported to France via Aurora’s European distribution hub in Berlin.

The dried flower will be administered with vaporizers by Storz & Bickel, a subsidiary of Canada’s Canopy Growth.

France is among a handful of European nations experimenting with medical marijuana distribution by launching temporary pilot programs.

Though some cannabis producers often tout potential future windfalls in such European markets, not all pilots have gone smoothly.

Denmark’s program experienced strong patient uptake early on, but patient access collapsed to fewer than 500 people – about half the program’s peak two years ago.

Experts have warned it will likely be many years before Europe’s regulated medical marijuana industry, which is already hypercompetitive, sees meaningful revenue opportunities.

For instance, Germany imported only 9,231 kilograms (20,351 pounds) of cannabis flower for pharmacy dispensing last year – less than the 14,463 kilograms of cannabis reimbursed for Canada’s veterans that year.

Some of France’s other suppliers include:

  • Australia-based Little Green Pharma.
  • Canada-based Tilray.
  • Israel-based Panaxia.

Companies were also chosen as potential substitutes.

Shares of Aurora trade as ACB on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq.