Italy announced on Thursday plans to cultivate medical marijuana in a secure army laboratory located near Florence and sell it through pharmacies in order to reduce costs and thus make it much more affordable to those who need it.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Italy in 2007, but so far, only a handful of patients have signed up for it due to its exorbitant cost. The military lab develops the so-called “orphan” medicines that pharmaceutical giants no longer produce that are used for treating rare diseases.
Italy’s Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti signed an agreement with the Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin to formalize the deal, reported Reuters.
“The institute already produces some medicines,” said Pinotti, as he explained the unusual role of the military cultivating marijuana. “And we can guarantee security conditions.”
It is illegal to possess, sell and grow marijuana in Italy, which mostly imports its medical marijuana supplies from the Netherlands. The result is that taxes and transport expenses more than double the total cost, resulting in a retail price of nearly 38 euros ($49) per gram.
Though several parts of Italy have drafted laws targeted at reducing the cost incurred by patients using medical marijuana to treat serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis or cancer, they have faced strong opposition.
Most Italians are of opinion that using medical pot, including by the sick, can negatively influence teenagers, who are now increasingly using the drug. A parliamentary report published this week showed that one in four Italians aged 15 to 19 smoked the drug in 2013.
Private pharmaceutical firms aren’t allowed to produce medical pot due to the sensitivity of the matter, according to Ms. Lorenzin. To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit www.forexminute.com/newsletter.
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