· Population: 60.5 million
· Number of Cannabis Users: 3.5 million
· Ruling Government Party: Seven party coalition
· Party Stance on Cannabis: Favours medical cannabis use
Landscape and policy
In regard to medical cannabis regulation in Europe, Italy can be considered as quite the progressive forerunner as medical cannabis has been available for use by Italian patients since 2013. However, in these early stages of the country’s cannabis legislation process, medical cannabis was available in the country only through import from the Netherlands. This made the cost of medical cannabis for many of the country’s patients unattainably high.
As of 2017 though, Florence’s Military Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant gained exclusivity over Italy’s cannabis distribution and production, which, coupled with a ruling that same year allowing for the cultivation of cannabis without previously-necessary authorisation from the cosmetics, energy and food sectors, made Italy less reliant upon foreign cannabis imports.
Pharmaceutical cannabis products such as Dronabinol and Sativex are currently legal in Italy, as are hemp and CBD products, although the use of cannabis recreationally is still prohibited in the country.
However, despite the legality of pharmaceutical cannabis products, the use of medical cannabis in the country is nonetheless very closely regulated, with only the most severe conditions meriting the use of cannabis-based medications. Currently, patients in the country have to obtain both a prescription from a doctor and ministerial approval to access cannabis products containing THC.
Very few people in the country are granted permission to cultivate cannabis, with anyone found to be violating the law being subjected to fines. Anyone distributing or growing cannabis would be subjected to similar penalties, with misdemeanour charges likely being issued against them in this case. In more serious scenarios involving large amounts of cannabis and its illegal sale, fines of up to €75,000 can be issued and the perpetrator could even be jailed for up to 6 years.
Recently, the Italian parliament was presented with a bill regarding the legalisation of recreational cannabis. If this bill was successfully passed, it would allow private citizens to grow up to 5 cannabis plants on their own private property and they would also be allowed to carry 5 grams of cannabis in public (compared to the current limit of 1.5 grams) and 15 grams at home.
Although such limits of 1.5 grams are officially in place in the country currently, in practice the Italian police largely overlook cannabis consumption and possession in small amounts.
For more information take a look at our evidence base, a ground-breaking systematic review of the history of research in the medical cannabis area and a global first-of-its-kind searchable database for clinical referencing.
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The rest of our comprehensive resources on medical cannabis are available on our website. We urge anyone considering the use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use.