Updated on January 7, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Like many countries, Italy’s laws for medical weed are strict, and violating them can lead to spending time in jail and paying expensive fines. Whether you or a loved one are considering using medical marijuana in Italy, it’s essential to understand the country’s medical cannabis laws before incorporating it into your treatment plan.
Italy’s approach to medical marijuana does influence its use. Prescriptions for medical cannabis in Italy are only for edible and smokeable forms of medical weed, which makes lotions or creams an unavailable option for patients.
Medical marijuana laws in Italy also prohibit patients from cultivating their own marijuana plants. Instead, all patients must receive their medical cannabis from an approved pharmacy, which obtains its inspected medical weed from an authorized producer, such as the Italian military.
As Italy’s only legalized medical marijuana, its laws focus on the function of its medical cannabis program. The most significant topics these laws cover are the distribution and importation of medical weed. Importers must file a specific form for bringing in their products, while pharmacies must fill the prescription without error.
The program’s laws also affect physicians. When prescribing medical cannabis, doctors may only provide a one-time prescription, rather than one that includes refills. Physicians must also log each patient’s age, sex, dosage and qualifying condition.
While the legalization of medical marijuana allows patients to access this medicine, the new legislation doesn’t impact the current state of recreational cannabis, which is still illegal to consume, carry, cultivate, sell or transport in Italy.
Penalties for doing so include prison sentences and fines. Selling and cultivating medical weed can also lead to similar repercussions, though the Italian courts have shown leniency in the past to patients who were growing their marijuana for personal medical use.
Since its start, the medical marijuana program in Italy has worked to ensure patients receive a safe form of medical cannabis. However, the program’s intense regulation has led to high prescription costs, as the country has imported a significant portion of its medical weed.
By preventing patients and their families from cultivating marijuana plants, Italy has also left patients without options when it comes to acquiring medical weed. This situation has left some patients unable to afford the costs of their medical cannabis prescription.
The Italian military has begun to oversee medical marijuana growth to alleviate this issue. This additional supply of medical cannabis will balance out the difference between supply and demand in Italy, as well as lessen the country’s reliance on importing medical weed.
Patients and doctors are protected under Italy’s medical marijuana laws. The country’s legislation permits doctors to prescribe medical cannabis, which is a significant shift from other medically-legal countries that require physicians to recommend cannabis rather than prescribe it.
By setting standards for the quality of cannabis, including its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, Italy is also ensuring patients and their loved ones have access to high-quality medical marijuana.
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