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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Medical Marijuana Production Begins in Florence-Based Military Lab - by Chelsea Shaker

     Italy is to grow medical marijuana for the sick… in a secure military lab. Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti signed an agreement with Italy’s Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin to instate a pilot project to grow and distribute medical marijuana to pharmacies by the end of 2015. Private pharmaceutical companies will not be able to grow medical marijuana “given the delicacy of this issue” Lorenzin said.

     Lorenzin also said she wanted to “debunk all the cultural or ideological myths about using certain drugs in health care. Recreational drug use is harmful, but cannabis can be used to help treat certain pathologies or alleviate pain.” 

     The use of cannabis by-products has been legal in Italy since 2007, but it is expensive. Possessing, selling, and growing marijuana is illegal in Italy, but the country imports all of its’ medical marijuana supplies from the Netherlands. 

     The use of a military chemical and pharmaceutical plant in Florence for production of medical marijuana was concluded to be so they can “guarantee security conditions.” The military lab is expected to produce about 180 to 440 pounds of active ingredients per year, based on the country’s current need. 

     “The gram of active ingredients costs 15 euros when we import it and we are condifent that the price of the drugs produced locally will be much less than half of the cost currently supported by social security” Ms. Lorenzin explained. 

     The first batches of medical marijuana are expected to hit pharmacies and hospitals for treatment to terminally ill and chronic sufferers of debilitating conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis, by 2015. 


     Italy is taking a positive step in the right direction to end the suppression of marijuana consumers, sellers, and growers in the prison system. Italy has recently changed the laws on cannabis related sentencing and will soon be releasing upwards of 10,000 inmates currently jailed on cannabis crimes. The estimate, proposed by The Weedist, express about 40% of Italian inmates were convicted of drug related crimes. The Italian judicial system is reverting back to a previous law that would not include cannabis with extended sentencing for hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. Some inmates will be released on time served; others will receive a reduction in sentencing from 6-20 years down to 2-6 years. 

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