The Italian Army is tasked with producing the entirety of Italy’s medical cannabis stores and it’s beginning to have trouble keeping up with demand, according to a PBS report.

Italy’s military has long been tasked with producing so-called “orphan drugs” — drugs that treat rare, uncommon diseases. Colonel Antonio Medica, commander of the facility growing all of Italy’s medical cannabis, says that when producing medical-grade cannabis or other drugs, it requires a high level of precision that, in Italy, is unique to the Army.

Italy’s government has no data on how many medical marijuana prescriptions have been given out but, according to pharmacists, it numbers in the tens of thousands. Italy, however, only produced 220 pounds total last year for the whole country. Colonel Medica said that the number of medical prescriptions has skyrocketed recently, making it difficult for his operation to keep up.

“The health ministry and the defence ministry are trying to fix the shortfall, because there’s been a huge increase in cannabis prescriptions and the number of patients who need them.” — Colonel Antonoi Medica, in an interview with PBS

A black market grower interviewed by PBS, however, said the military’s product is very low quality, full of seeds, and low in cannabinoid content. An MMJ patient also interviewed agreed, saying that the hospital he receives his prescription from is forced to import more powerful cannabis from elsewhere in Europe. Even data from the Italian Health Ministry confirmed a sample of Dutch cannabis to be three times as potent as an Italian sample.

Calls for legal home growing have largely been ignored. Colonel Medica is not for it, claiming it’s a dangerous idea to allow anyone to grow a medical product. Colonel Medica said he expects his command to triple production in the next two years, in part because of a new health bill that will allocate two billion dollars to the Army and make medical cannabis free nationwide.

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