Medical cannabis production in Italy predicted to almost triple this year

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

As much as triple the amount of medical cannabis in Italy will be domestically produced throughout 2020. This is according to the Italian Ministry of Health‘s recently announced plans.

Based on the details of Italy’s psychotropic substances quota which includes language pertaining to medical cannabis the Stabilimento Chimico Farmaceutico di Firenze (SCFF) will be granted to churn out 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of cannabis flower for the coming year. 

Two different cultivars – called FM1 and FM2 – will be yielded by the SCFF. Increasing production is a move that will hopefully reduce the reliance on medical cannabis imports in the European country. One of Canada’s leading producers, Aurora Cannabis, is the only company of its kind in the “Great White North” to supply Italy with medical cannabis.

Imports from Canada kicked off at the beginning of 2018, when Aurora bagged a contract to supply Italy with 100 kg of cannabis. A recent deal that would have allowed Aurora to supply Italy with an additional 400 kg of medical cannabis over a two-year period was recently canceled by the government, proving the importance of the SCFF increasing production.

SCFF is the only authorized medical cannabis cultivation organization in Italy

Overseen by Italy’s government body, the Ministry of Defense, the SCFF is legally allowed to cultivate medicinal-grade cannabis in Italy; no other organization has been authorized to do so in the European country. The pharmaceutical cannabis cultivator will conduct operations in accordance with the European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP). 

Production was estimated to be fewer than 200 kilograms in 2019. This “confirms the SCFF’s inability to satisfy the growing demand,” Italian business lawyer Giuseppe Libutti told Marijuana Business Daily. “Imports will continue to be needed because planned domestic production won’t be enough.”

Since the quantity of medical cannabis sold to patients in Italy topped 578 kg in 2018, production must be increased to ensure patient demand is met. With the SCFF being permitted to grow 500 kg this year, Italy’s medical cannabis program should do pretty well for 2020.

Italy’s cannabis imports – which must comply with the necessary EU-GMP processes – are heavily relied on at the current time. The vast majority of medical cannabis in Italy is sourced from the Netherlands. Exports are conducted by the Dutch government Office of Medicinal Cannabis, after the plant is produced by a company called Bedrocan.

Government funds joint venture to produce medical cannabis in Italy

A joint-venture was recently announced by the SCFF and the Italian region of Tuscany. Based on the details of the collaboration, medical cannabis will be produced over a three-year period, with the possibility to expand the length of the project. In addition to producing weed for the medical field, the team will explore the safety and efficacy of using pharmaceutical-grade cannabis treatments. Main areas of focus for the project will include clinical trials, oil extracts and cannabis flower.

The partnership which was initially announced back in November 2019 – was given the go-ahead by the regional council and confirmed by Councilor for Health Stefania Saccardi. An impressive EUR€1.4 million was invested in the project by each participating party; equivalent to USD$ 1.5 million. Contributions to the amount of €600,000 have been funneled into the venture by the SCFF, with the remaining €795,000 being paid in instalments by the region of Tuscany.

Even though Italy’s medical cannabis market is is still maturing much like it is in the Netherlands, both European countries trail closely behind Germany as the largest markets on the continent.