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Beginning in 2015, a high-security Italian military compound in Florence will begin growing medical marijuana. Last year Italy legalized medical cannabis, but because there is a steep cost (as much as 38 Euro or $48 USD per gram) associated with the medical marijuana bought at pharmacies, very few Italians have availed themselves of the medical cannabis program. The pricey cannabis is imported via official channels from Holland. Keeping organized crime out of medical marijuana production is a primary concern in Italy, it seems.
Now, in order to encourage lower prices and safe access for patients who cannot afford such exorbitant prices for a daily medication, the military will be growing it. Details on who will qualify for the discounted or free medical marijuana grown by the Italian military remain scarce, but the very existence of this pilot program is promising.
Despite being part of the European Union, Italy is also home to the Roman Catholic Church, which still has significant cultural influence in the country. Some Italians have blamed the anti-drug policy and stigma attached to medical marijuana use (even by those with serious, chronic conditions) as another possible reason for low participation in the legal medical cannabis market. Perhaps the involvement of the military will help to dispel ongoing social stigma in Italy about medical marijuana use.
This program, if successful, should stand as an inspiration to military and government organizations the world over to legalize medical cannabis and its production.
For previous Ladybud coverage of the military and cannabis, click here.
Photo Credit: davric under public domain via Wikimedia Commons