Patients can obtain free medical cannabis in Sicily

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A report released by the Local Italy news publication on January 21 announced that medical cannabis patients in the Sicily region will now be able to procure their medicine free of charge. 

The news comes after Sicilian Health Chief Ruggero Razza signed a decree to cover the cost of prescriptions; a move that will assist low-income individuals in treating their ailments with natural plant-derived medicines; as opposed to destructive drugs like opioids

The Sicilian regional government will be responsible for footing the cost of medical cannabis on the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, which is home to approximately 5,000 people.

Costs associated with medical cannabis in Sicily will be covered by the Sicilian Region

Only pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products will be covered under the new rule, which will be effective across the entire Sicilian region. Patients who have been diagnosed with chronic pain, neuropathic pain, spasticity and/or multiple sclerosis will now be eligible to receive a free prescription for medical cannabis in Sicily.

According to the rules, prescriptions for medical cannabis in Sicily will be capped at six months. After this time, patients will be required to consult with a doctor for an evaluation of their health to determine the efficacy of using plant-derived medicines.

Currently, anaesthesia specialists, neurology experts, pain therapy professionals, resuscitation doctors and public health companies can prescribe qualifying patients with medical cannabis in Sicily. Once approved, patients can visit hospital pharmacies to request/obtain their medicine. It should be noted that these pharmacies are not responsible for producing the drug but rather, dispensing it to patients. 

Medicinal-grade cannabis products in Sicily are produced by five private pharmacies with locations in Agrigento, Catania, Palermo, Ragusa and Syracuse. 

Councilor for Health launched technical coalition to encourage free medical cannabis in Sicily

Associations like the Bister of Catania and “Exist the rights” of Palermo urged lawmakers to sign the decree for free medical cannabis in Sicily. Moreover, the decree was also requested by a technical table formed by the region’s Councilor for Health. 

“We thank Councilor Razza for the sensitivity shown and for the decree just signed,” said Giuseppe Brancatelli of Bister, adding that, “it is an important result, as associations we will continue our action so that the audience of diseases for the free administration of the drug is enlarged”.

An overview of medical cannabis in Italy

Medical cannabis in Italy has been legal since January 2013. However, when legalization was effectuated seven years ago, states did not cover the cost of plant-derived medicines. Fortunately for patients, things have since changed. 

In an attempt to assist low-income individuals, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti made an announcement in September 2014 confirming that the Italian army would start cultivating pharmaceutical-approved cannabis plants inside a state-of-the-art chemical-pharmaceutical military facility based in Florence.

Patients are limited to obtaining prescriptions for edible and smokeable types of medical cannabis in Italy. Home cultivation is prohibited; patients must acquire their medicine from a pharmacy that has been approved by the government.