In Italy, the army provides medical marijuana. And some say that’s a problem.

In Italy, the army provides medical marijuana. And some say that’s a problem.

Published on 12/1/17

Italy has a very different approach to medical care compared to the U.S. in that it is considered a constitutional right. Included in that is the country's medical marijuana program, but many are unhappy with the monopoly that the Italian Army has on growing and selling medical marijuana. The Italian military grows cannabis for the entire country at $7 a gram, but they only grow 1 strain which happens to be low in THC and not helpful to all illnesses. Patients can get other strains imported from other countries but that process can be very slow and extremely expensive, up to $84 a gram. Many Italians agree that the country's program needs to expand and while the military is considering growing more strains, the best idea is likely just opening the market to businesses and doctors to better cater to all italian patients needs.

“Producing medicines is a standard part of what the Defense Industries Agency does, because health is a matter of national security,” Medica said.

“The FM2 just doesn’t work for patients like me,” he said. “I have to use Bedrocan” — a variety of cannabis with about 22 percent THC, compared with FM2’s 8 percent. Trisciuglio said that his hospital imports Bedrocan from the Netherlands but that he sometimes has to wait as long as a month for it.

The trouble with importing cannabis from the Netherlands is that it “is expensive, which also makes it slow,” said Carlo Valente, a lawyer in the southern city of Lecce who is representing Trisciuglio and other patients. Dutch medicines, he said, reach Italy through intermediary agencies, which raises their prices.

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