Cannabis for medical use in Italy: how therapeutic cannabis works or medical marijuana. Use, prescription, prescription and where to find it.

Attention: legal cannabis
In Italy cannabis from the medical point of view is legal since 2007, when the Minister of Health Livia Turco recognized with a decree the therapeutic use of the cannabinoid delta-9-THC. In 2013, the next Minister of Health Renato Balduzzi extended the legalization of cannabinoids in plant form, so even in Italy they were recognized for medical purposes the uses of the cannabis plant (plant parts, in particular the plant inflorescences), of its extracts and preparations. From that year onwards, various regional regulations were created to govern the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes with executive decrees in most regions of Italy starting in 2015.

It is important to understand that all this has nothing to do with the so-called ” cannabis light ” that from August 2017 can be freely found on the market. The commercially available cannabis light is THC-free and therefore has no psychotropic effects and is marketed for recreational use. In this article we will not talk about the use of legal cannabis for recreational use but we will focus on the Italian health system and on the current regulations on medical cannabis , which can be purchased in pharmacies by presenting a regular medical prescription .

Cannabis for medical use in Italy
The medical use of hemp has a millennial history and, in consideration of the scientific evidence currently existing, even the Italian Health System has wished to affirm its use for medical purposes . It is important to point out that, even if legalized for “medical use”, the use of cannabis cannot be considered a proper treatment: the experts describe it as a symptomatic treatment to support standard treatments when they have become addictive, have produced side effects, if they have contraindications or if conventional drugs have not produced the desired effects.

As mentioned above, the use of medical hemp should be discussed at length with your doctor so that you can evaluate alternatives or more effective treatments based on the purpose to be pursued.

Not only is medical cannabis legal but it can also be loaned in certain cases. The prescription , in fact, can be charged to the National Health Service when there is resistance to conventional therapies in the case of particular diagnoses such as:

Cachexia, anorexia, loss of appetite in cancer patients or those with AIDS. For this purpose cannabis is used to stimulate the appetite .
Chronic pain of a neurogenic nature when other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone drugs or opioids have been ineffective. For this purpose, medical hemp is used as an analgesic in the treatment of chronic pain.
Still as an analgesic it can be used in case of pathologies involving spasticity like multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries …
In the case of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, HIV therapies … therapeutic cannabis can be prescribed to relieve nausea and vomiting (anticinetosic effect).
In glaucoma, to exploit the hypotensive effect.
In Tourette’s syndrome to reduce movement in volunteers of the body.
After seeing the therapeutic effects of medical hemp , let’s try to understand when it can be prescribed.

The prescription charged to the Health System can only be made in the cases listed above. In cases not listed in the list of therapeutic effects, medical hemp may be prescribed but the prescription (therefore the purchase of the “drug”) is the responsibility of the patient.

The prescription can be issued by the family doctor on the basis of a Therapeutic Plan drawn up by a specialist doctor of the Regional Health Service.

Before buying medical hemp it is important to hold an interview with the specialist doctor who has the duty to inform the patient about the benefits and potential risks of the use of cannabis . At the time of the prescription , the patient will in fact acquire the “informed consent” as provided for all other conventional drugs.

How to get medical cannabis prescribed? Having an interview with a specialist doctor and remembering that the prescription is nominative, it cannot be transferred to third parties and above all, the medical prescription must be renewed from time to time by the Health Service doctor.

How to buy legal cannabis for medical use ? Going to the pharmacy with a regular medical prescription . The recipe must be delivered to the pharmacist who will issue the patient with a stamped copy (non-repeatable recipe). It is important, when providing the “medical preparation” to obtain a copy of the stamped medical recipe so as to demonstrate, in case of control, that it is therapeutic hemp and not illegal marijuana from the black market.

It will then be necessary to identify which are the pharmacies that have declared willingness to masterly cannabis-based galenic preparation, but in general there are many in most Italian cities, even this may be the specialist to provide information.

Although the therapeutic use of hemp dates back to 2007, in those circumstances the legalization concerned only hemp extracts ( cannabinoid delta-9-THC ) the regulations concerning the use of plant parts for medical purposes date back to 2015 and subsequent modifications. For a normative reference we point out: