Since 2007, the Italian government has been slowly chipping away at cannabis prohibition. The country’s Health Minister recognized marijuana as a viable pharmaceutical product a couple of years ago, but you might be surprised as to who is producing this medicinal cannabis for the thousands of applicable patients living in Italy.
The recently implemented medical system is being spearheaded by the ICFM, a 164-year-old chemical and pharmaceutical institute run by the Italian military. Currently, an estimated two to three thousand patients in Italy use marijuana for a limited range of medical purposes, including treating chronic multiple sclerosis pain, symptoms stemming from chemotherapy, glaucoma, and restoring the appetite of patients suffering from anorexia and HIV.
Based in Florence, the hybrid testing laboratory and grow house currently contains about 100 cannabis plants that will yield around 18 pounds of final product. The military police researchers plan to have four total growth chambers and produce approximately 220 pounds by the end of the year.
The marijuana currently grown by the ICFM is heavy in CBD and light in THC, but the researchers admit that they’re still in a very experimental phase. According to Antonio Medica, the colonel in charge of the cannabis laboratory, the military police plan to produce different types of medical cannabis. The ultimate aim is to meet the country's growing demand and discover which strains and compounds work best with each specific condition.
Using a powerful lighting system in their grow room, the Italian military police are able to reach the harvesting point in just three months. After that, the cannabis is treated with gamma rays to kill off pathogens and sold to pharmacists for around $7.30 per gram. Any profit made from their low-priced medical cannabis is invested in further research.
Although the Italian military police have become closely acquainted with the growing process and distribution of cannabis, they have yet to budge on recreational use. They also strongly discourage smoking cannabis for medical purposes too, instead advising patients to boil their required dose in water or use a vaporizer.
All in all, Italy still has a long way to go before recreational use comes into play. But with the country’s military police in charge of cultivation and research, perhaps the medical benefits that they discover will help influence the government to lighten up.