New figures procured from the Italian Ministry of Health by Italian journalist Fabrizio Dentini show that while domestic supply grew last year from a low in 2020 of just 37kg, it was still a fraction of total demand.
In 2021, the Italian military grew 101.904kg of medical cannabis, marking a 175% increase on the previous year, but this was a 17% decline on the more comparable 123kg in 2019.
Despite the recovery from such a dramatic decline in 2020, this represented a fraction of the total medical cannabis sold in Italian pharmacies that year.
After launching its medical cannabis programme in 2007, the Italian government moved to allow its military to begin producing medical cannabis in 2015 as part of a project designed to ‘fully meet the growing needs of Italian patients’.
The government continues to tender all production in the country, and is understood to have granted only five companies a licence to distribute medical cannabis so far.
“To cope with the evident production inability, the Italian state makes use of the cyclical structural import of medical cannabis from Holland (≈900 kilos imported in 2021),” Mr Dentini explained.
Despite also importing limited amounts of medical cannabis through Canada and, most recently, Australia, via agreements with Aurora and Little Green Pharma respectively, the limited number of granted licences means that large gaps in supply and continued deficits persist throughout the country.
According to Mr Dentini, this has resulted in ‘numerous emergency procedures’ being initiated for ‘una tantum import of batches of medical-grade cannabis’.
On August 24 this year, called for another emergency batch of medical cannabis to meet the growing deficit.
The call, which has a deadline of October 5, 2022, requires 630kg of dried cannabis, including 530kg of high-THC cannabis, 50kg of high-CBD cannabis and an additional 50kg of cannabis with a balanced titration.
“The aforementioned quantity was determined by taking as a reference a unit price per gram estimated at €3”
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