By Emily Ledger
The Sicilian government has declared that it will fund free medical Cannabis prescriptions for some patients on the island. Medical Cannabis was legalised across Italy in 2013, but patients have since had to pay for the medication.
The Sicilian Health Chief, Ruggero Razza, today signed a decree, effectively making medical Cannabis products free to some patients in the region. Among those who will be eligible for free medicines are patients of Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic and Neuropathic pain, and Cerebral Palsy.
Patients must have a prescription signed by a doctor, and must obtain the medical products from a licensed pharmacy. The medical Cannabis supply in Italy is strictly controlled, with the Italian Ministry of Defense possessing the only domestic license to grow the plant. The remaining demand is met through imports from abroad, including from Germany and the Netherlands.
Sicily’s new medical Cannabis policy follows a similar decision by the Czech government, last October. Under the Czech law, patients will be reimbursed for up to 90% of prescription costs. The law covers a maximum of 30 grams of Cannabis per month.
Further details on the specifics of Sicily’s new medical Cannabis system are yet to be confirmed.
The non-licensed cultivation and sale of Cannabis is still prohibited throughout Italy. Possession of the drug is not criminalised, however, it may result in a fine, or even the suspension of driving licenses and passports.
A license is not required for the cultivation of low-THC industrial hemp. Officially, hemp should not exceed a limit of 0.3%, however, plants containing up to 0.6% THC are widely tolerated.
Italy’s relaxed approach to low-THC Cannabis plants has also extended to the large ‘Cannabis Light’ market. Cannabis Light refers to Cannabis with a high CBD:THC ratio, which is also widely tolerated. At the end of 2019, the Italian parliament passed a bill to officially legalise the Cannabis Light market. Yet, the bill was later blocked by the Senate.