TOKYO-2016 Science / Medicine

Cannabis treats Italy

  • Prize
    Silver in Science/Medicine
  • Photographer
    Matteo Bastianelli

The millennial history of cannabis used for medical purposes hasn’t helped much; indeed, with the rise of Prohibition, most of the knowledge acquired about its healing properties have long since gone up in smoke. People in poor health, associations and a few enlightened doctors have, for a number of years now, been trying to recover the precious legacy of therapeutic cannabis. Today it is back to being a treatment both promising but, regrettably, difficult to obtain, particularly for sick people in Italy. Therefore, Italy like many other European countries, is compelled to import medical cannabis produced in the Netherlands. However, after the long chain of possession, its retail price in the pharmacies soars in cost. There are huge interests at stake that are at the heart of the political debate: from pharmaceutical lobbies to the profit of organized crime. Those who are able to obtain it free of charge, under medical prescription from pharmacies, have their own Regional Health Services to thank. Other patients are at a crossroads: either grow it illegally or buy it on the black market. Unfortunately, the advantage of a lower selling price in the street corresponds to a total lack of information regarding the quantity of active substance and the quality of inflorescences, both key factors in therapy. It will be some time yet before Italy is able to heal its failings in cannabis regulation, even if cannabis has, in fact, been treating Italy for a long time already.