FLORENCE, ITALY. 2 May, 2015 — The Italian army’s first cannabis crop was unveiled Friday, with a display of robust plants growing at a military-run pharmaceutical pot farm in Florence. In a report by the Corriere della Sera website on Friday, Col Antonio Medica put the industry on notice, explaining : “We’re aiming to lower the price to under 15 euros, maybe even around 5 euros per gram.”
In Italy, medical marijuana is prescribed for a variety of conditions, especially for managing chronic pain. But although Italian doctors can legally prescribe cannabis, the cost isn’t covered by the state and it can become fiercely expensive for patients to buy it at licenses dispensaries, with all medical marijuana being imported from abroad – primarily the Netherlands – and costing up to 35 euros per gram. Cannabis cultivation is illegal in Italy, as is selling non-prescription cannabis.
The army’s grow operation was proudly announced by the Italian government in September 2014, with plans to churn out 220 pounds of cannabis annually. Their Florence facility, as well as being conveniently located near art galleries and landmarks like Michelangelo’s statue of David, also houses drying and packing facilities. Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said the army pharmaceutical plant was chosen for the project because it already had the necessary facilities and could guarantee security thanks to its hi-tech surveillance system.
“The aim of this operation is to make available to a growing number of patients a medical product which isn’t always readily available on the market, at a much better price for the user,” Col. Medica said.