Ever since the medical use of marijuana became legalized – recreational use remains illegal in the country – its prices have climbed rapidly. Marijuana users might be aware that the price of imported, pharmacy-bought weed has gone up 10 times as much as street prices. Interestingly, the Italian army may soon step-in to combat this inflation and protect pot users.
Italy wants its army to grow marijuana from next year in a bid to discourage medicinal users from funding illegal street dealers, reported Live Trading News. To ensure the production meets its timeline, a high-security military compound lab is earmarked for growing cannabis for the national healthcare system. Needless to say, marijuana opponents are strongly criticizing this move. Leading political and religious figures have called for an immediate reversal of the decision.
Why is the country so keen for its army to grow weed? Since the medical use of marijuana was legalized last year, the government has been looking for ways to keep costs down as few people could afford to sign up for the pharmacy scheme. Officials hope that the large-scale, government controlled cultivation experiment in Florence would offer safe, legal, and affordable pain relief to citizens of a country that, ironically, strongly opposes drug use.
The government is forced to rely on the army primarily because the steep price of pharmacy-bought weed imported from Holland, which currently costs up to 10 times as much as street prices at around 38 euros per gram, reported The Independent.
In comparison, marijuana prices on the street are hovering at around five euros. It’s no wonder, then, that users of marijuana for medicinal purposes are directly fueling illegal street sale of pot, which isn’t netting any revenue in the form of taxes to the government – and that is quite a substantial hit.
However, despite such lofty plans to offer low-cost cannabis, or even providing it for free, health authorities are still expecting low numbers due to a drug stigma in the predominately Catholic country. Still, Umberto Veronesi, former health minister and one of the top cancer doctors in Italy, believes that over time, the scheme could prove popular once medical-use weed is more socially accepted,
“Cannabis is a very effective medicine, but since it’s also a drug… there’s always fear to use it. “The same thing happened with morphine, which for years no one would prescribe for the poor patients who were suffering terribly.”
While it may be legal to possess small quantities of marijuana in America, laws against marijuana in Italy are severe, as possessing or growing it are crimes that could lead to imprisonment. Politician Maurizio Gasparri said the ruling was “a big mistake that risks promoting dealing and consuming drugs.”
[Image Credit | The Daily Chronic]