Medicinal cannabis has been legal in Italy since 2007 and treatment with medical cannabis is permitted for a multitude of conditions. The main problem for patients is the shortage of supplies and since last summer it has been hard to get medicinal cannabis from the country’s pharmacies. The solution is coming from Canada with a extraordinary 100 kg top-up, and the entrance of Canadian companies onto the Italian medical cannabis scene.
Medicinal cannabis has been legal in Italy since 2007, the year in which the medical potential of THC was recognised. But it was in 2013 that the medical use of the plant in vegetable and extract form was authorised. In spite of the legal ease which patients appear to have, the reality is not so simple. The main problem that patients continue to suffer is a shortage of supplies, meaning that since last summer therapeutic marijuana has been hard to come by in mainland pharmacies.
Since 2014 the Military Pharmaceutical Chemical Establishment of Florence, which answers to the Ministry of Defence has held the monopoly on medical cannabis production at a national level. In 2017 they supplied the country’s pharmacies with 100 kg of a variety called FM2, an amount nowhere near sufficient to cover the annual needs of Italy’s patients. In a few years time they hope to produce 300kg, an amount which they believe should be enough for national demand.
In recent years, Italy has suffered a shortage of medical cannabis, due to the small number of import licenses which have been granted and having just one national producer, the military, whose provisions are unable to satisfy the growing number of patients throughout the country
The production forecasts for this year, according to many patient associations were not sufficient and pharmacies have effectively been without supplies since last September. Nor have the agreed 200kg per year imported from Holland sufficient.
To supplement the lack of medical cannabis, last November the government called for the an ´extraordinary´ supply of 100kg, opening new temporary importation routes.
The resolution was made public a couple of weeks ago and the company that received the exclusive tender for this extra supply was the German subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis, a Canadian Licensed Producer (LP) and the first private company to direct provide the Italian government. Although in this case this is not a new import company, but a temporary fix, Aurora are obviously extremely satisfied.
At the same time, Nuuvera, based in Toronto, have announced the acquisition of FL-Group, one of the seven Italian companies licensed to import medical marijuana.
FL-Group is a start-up specialising in the importation and commercialisation of cannabis for therapeutic use and together with FL-GROUP, the Canadian company, has acquired its license the importation of medical cannabis.
Nuuvera has become the first importer with access to tens of thousands of kilos of available supply. “we have 77,000 kilos of consumption in Canada, which is why we can meet the shortage” said CEO Lorne Abony who claims to be able to alleviate the supply shortage which Italian patients are suffering, by working with the authorities.
Theses recent movements, seem to indicate that the Canadian medical marijuana companies are starting to view Italy as a potentially large developing market.
On the other hand, the March elections may bring a new chapter for cannabis in Italy. Once again the future of cannabis in Italy is waiting to be written.