Italy has moved forward with its medical cannabis policy when the Parliament took the medical cannabis bill to the Senate. If approved, this would lead to the creation of a uniform framework across the entire country for medical cannabis.
Current bill is different from original proposals
According to Radicali Italiani president Antonella Soldo, the current bill is based on various proposals, including the political party’s popular proposal of law.
It can be recalled that in 2016, the Radicali movement, together with the Luca Coscioni Association, had collected 68,000 signatures from citizens seeking to legalize and regulate adult-use or recreational cannabis.
Moreover, Inter-gruppo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, which is a cross-party committee made up of representatives and senators, had previously drafted a bill that would have decriminalized possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis for recreational use outside the home and up to 15 grams for recreational use at home. What’s more, it would have allowed the cultivation of a maximum of five cannabis plants for personal use and would have authorized the operation of cannabis clubs with up to 50 members. As for distribution, the original proposal would have allowed the government to grant licenses for producing and selling cannabis inside the national territory. That bill still prohibits the exportation and importation of cannabis and the public use of cannabis.
Needless to say, the parliament has changed the original meaning of the previous proposals as presented by various political movements and associations before the Chamber of Deputies took the bill up for debate. Instead, the parliament – specifically the Justice and Social Affairs committees, the two parliamentary groups tasked to deal with specific topics – limited the debate to the therapeutic use of cannabis, which has been regulated since 2007.
But medical marijuana is already legal, right?
Italy’s Department of Health had already made a decree in 2007 that made it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients who need it to treat their medical condition. However, the parliament still needs to adopt comprehensive national regulations for medical cannabis.
Soldo also noted previously that despite medical cannabis being legal in the country since a decade ago, it is still very difficult to find a doctor who will prescribe medical cannabis for fear of persecution from the medical community. This stigma, she said, must be addressed before the government proceeds with any adult-use discussion.
What does the current bill say?
Now, the proposed legislation would enable doctors in Italy to prescribe medical cannabis for the treatment of certain medical conditions and to help with pain management. These prescriptions are going to be limited to only 3 months at a time.
Furthermore, the current bill states that the preparation, cultivation, and distribution of medical cannabis would start from a pharmaceutical plant based in Florence. It also provides that the importation of medical cannabis and the granting of additional licenses for the cultivation of cannabis plants be authorized, if necessary, in order to meet domestic demand.
Furthermore, the current bill proposes that individual provinces and autonomous regions be in charge of monitoring medical marijuana prescriptions and of collecting data on patients that seek these prescriptions, as well as information on the amounts prescribed to them. These territories would need to give their respective governing state body a report on their projected medical cannabis requirements for the following year.
Lastly, cannabis research in the country would include regular updates on the latest applications for medical cannabis, to be provided to doctors as well as to other healthcare professionals.
Current bill still a progress
Sodo said that even if the proposed legislation does not go the way Radicali had originally wanted, she is aware that it is progress. According to her, this is still a first step and it is still important, especially for those that suffer today.
The bill will now be heading to the Senate floor, where it will be further discussed and examined.