Italy’s medical marijuana program is becoming so popular that the nation is experiencing a shortage. But help is on the way. Two Canadian companies have won a contract to supply the Italian government with enough herbal medicine to keep up with demand.
For years, the Italian military was the sole producer of cannabis for the nation’s medical marijuana program. A bump in demand has forced the Italian government to seek new producers. Enter Canada.
According to Marijuana Business Daily:
Toronto-based Nuuvera said last week it is acquiring one of only seven companies in Italy with a license to import medical cannabis.
Hours later, Pedanios, the German subsidiary of Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis won an exclusive tender to supply 100 kilograms of medical marijuana to the Italian government through the country’s Ministry of Defense, which oversees MMJ production and distribution — at least for now.
“I am very proud of Aurora and the Pedanios team for the quality of their execution in becoming the exclusive winner of this important tender,” Neil Belot, Aurora’s chief global business development officer, said in a press release. The move signals a major development in the global marijuana industry.
Related Story: Italian Patients Say Yes To Marijuana For Chronic Pain
According to Marijuana Business Daily, the Italian military grows roughly 250 kilograms (551 pounds) per year. The government estimates that the demand for medical marijuana will soon be 2,000 kilograms (4,409 pounds). Clearly, the supply is nowhere near the demand.“We want to work with Italian authorities to address the shortage of supply that is causing problems to Italian patients,” said CEO Lorne Abony. “We have 77,000 kilograms of offtake in Canada, so we can address the shortage.”
Italy’s Department of Health started allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients in 2007, but the country’s Parliament has failed to adopt comprehensive national regulations since then. Last year, the Italian parliament voted to ease regulations on medical marijuana. The changes opened the door for many patients to access the program.
Currently in Italy, doctors are allowed to prescribe cannabis if other treatments are not effective. Among the qualifying conditions are chronic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma and anorexia.
Regulatory challenges notwithstanding, the market’s potential has caught the eye of Canada’s largest medical marijuana companies.
As Canada companies gain entry into the vast European market, US companies remain on the sidelines.