While the US markets for state-licensed weed struggle with high prices, high taxes, and excessive regulatory costs, medical cannabis patients in Sicily will enjoy free herb — thanks to the government.
On Tuesday, Sicily’s Health Chief, Ruggero Razza, signed a decree that will provide medical cannabis and cannabis products — free of charge — to Sicilian patients. Sicily has socialized healthcare, so the citizens's taxes will cover the costs. The move is also expected to boost Italy’s medical marijuana market. Although exact figures for Sicily’s medical weed sales aren’t readily available, Italy as a whole sold an estimated €3.42 million ($3.79 million USD) of legal cannabis in 2019.
Italian doctors were given the right to prescribe medical cannabis in 1990, though Italy didn’t formally legalize medical cannabis until 2013. Currently, Italy’s military grows and distributes the nation’s cannabis supplies. One Italian medical marijuana strain, FM2, produces two newly discovered cannabinoids, THCP and CBDP. Researchers found that THCP may be 30 times more potent than THC, the compound primarily responsible for weed’s characteristic buzz.
Italy isn’t the first or only country to treat weed like a medicine rather than a party drug. Earlier this month, the Thai government opened a clinic that dispensed free cannabis oil to elderly patients. And, last year, Ireland’s government approved of medical cannabis being covered by insurance plans, ensuring that (at least some) patients have easier access to the plant.
In Canada, which legalized weed in 2018, medical patients can get their cannabis covered by some private insurance plans, though most policies, including the federal government’s, still won’t cover it.
So, get with the program, America. Other countries are already leagues ahead of us when it comes to medical cannabis, patient rights, and guaranteed access.