In Italy, the demand for medical marijuana has been blowing up in recent years. So much so, in fact, that Italy’s only medical marijuana facility is failing to keep up with demand. The nation’s medical marijuana shortage is now forcing patients and country officials alike to explore new methods for obtaining medical cannabis.
Italy’s Military Is Growing Weed—And It Can’t Keep Up
In Italy, there is only one medical marijuana grow site. And it’s overseen by the military. According to a report by PBS Newshour, Italy put the military in charge in an attempt to ensure a high level of security.
In general, this is just one aspect of what the government has tried to establish as a highly regulated medical marijuana program. There are other ways that the government has tried to tightly control the program.
For example, the country sets the price for all cannabis. In particular, officials set the price for medical marijuana at a rate lower than the going black market rate.
Officials reportedly do this to try and curtail the black market, and to encourage patients to get their medical marijuana legally. But by allowing for only one grow facility, the government may be creating its own worst enemy. More specifically, Italy’s lone medical marijuana facility just doesn’t have enough bandwidth to keep up with rapidly skyrocketing demands.
Italian army Colonel Antonio Medica said that Italy produced 220 pounds of medical marijuana last year. That wasn’t nearly enough to provide for all of the country’s medical marijuana patients. While precise stats are hard to come by, pharmacists in Italy reportedly said that there are many more than 10,000 patients actively seeking medical marijuana.
Getting Weed Elsewhere
Italy’s shortage of medical marijuana is forcing people to explore other ways of obtaining cannabis. That includes the government itself, as well as patients.
Not surprisingly, many patients are turning to illegal growers and sellers. According to such patients, there are a couple of key benefits to doing this. For starters, they can actually get the supply they need. But beyond that, many patients said that illegal sellers are also providing a higher-quality product than government-grown weed. Additionally, since the government grows such a small amount of medical marijuana, there’s not a lot of choices when it comes to strains.
Patients who buy on the black market tend to have a much wider selection. This allows them to get the precise strain they’re looking for. Interestingly, patients aren’t the only ones sourcing their weed elsewhere. The Italian government is now looking beyond its borders for medical marijuana.
The country reportedly brought in 440 pounds of marijuana last year from the Netherlands. More recently, it struck deals with Canadian cannabis companies. As a result, Italy now plans to import another 220 pounds of weed from Canadian producers.
Italy’s Only Medical Marijuana Facility Fails To Keep Up With Demand
For many medical marijuana patients in Italy, there’s one final problem. In particular, medical marijuana patients who need high-potency weed are struggling to find it in the supply grown by the government. Sources said that, in general, the marijuana being grown by the Italian military is relatively low in THC. For example, many patients who need more potent medical marijuana are turning to weed grown in other European countries. Places like the Netherlands are reportedly producing weed up to three times as potent as Italy’s.