The benefits of medical marijuana are becoming more and more difficult to disprove. From cancer to post-traumatic stress disorder to epilepsy and beyond, cannabis has been an irreplaceable healing tool in the lives of many sufferers. It makes sense, then, that legal medical cannabis has been making its way around the globe from states in the U.S. as well as other countries including Italy.
Last year, when the country approved medical cannabis for qualifying residents, many people were reluctant to apply to become patients because of the cultural stigma against smoking pot in an intrinsically religious, Catholic country. But, the high cost of marijuana may have been more of a deterrent for patients seeking relief from their symptoms. According to reports, the price of a single gram purchased from a pharmacy can cost as much as 38 euros or $48 USD per gram as opposed to 5 euros or about $6 USD on the street. That means an ounce from a pharmacy could cost as much as $1,360.
In order to encourage more people to buy from medical dispensaries instead of spending money on the black market, the Italian government has enlisted the military to begin growing pot to lower the cost of cannabis. The new venture will start in 2015 with assistance from Italy’s leading cannabis expert, Gianpaolo Grassi.
The military will produce cannabis in a high-security lab in Florence with strains developed by Grassi. Reports reveal that there is also a high chance that many qualifying patients may also be able to receive their medicine for free or at a severely discounted rate, thanks to the rise in supply to meet the demand. Officials are hopeful this will also decrease sales among mafias and drug dealers.
Currently, Italians residents without medical qualifications face imprisonment if they’re caught using, selling or growing cannabis. Outside of the legal aspect, there’s a general cultural stigma against drugs — even for medical reasons — due to the heavy influence of the Catholic church. Pope Francis has publicly condemned every type of drug use. Even now, Italian doctors prescribe opiate-based medicines less than any other country throughout Europe.
Officials are considering this a pilot program with no intentions to follow in the steps of Colorado and Washington state, which voted to legalize cannabis use for all adults over 21 regardless of their medical status.
What are cannabis prices like where you live? How do you think cost could be reduced? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.