While the United States military continues to frown on its soldiers’ use of marijuana, the Italian army is planning to puts its troops to work in the cannabis fields to cultivate medicine for patients throughout the nation. In addition, the country announced earlier last week that it will release nearly 10,000 inmates that have been incarcerated due to outdated pot laws — making Italy the latest nation to impose sensible drug reform.
Reports from the Italian newspaper LaStampa Cronache indicate that the Ministries of Health and Defense have reached a decision to put the military in charge of growing the country’s medical marijuana crop, which they hope will make it easier for patients to get their hands on medicine.
Although medicinal cannabis has been legal in Italy for about two decades, there have been no private growers since the government has only allowed pot to be cultivated for research purposes only. It is for this reason that cannabis-based medicine, like GW Pharmaceuticals’ Sativex, is distributed throughout the country only as an import, which is costing some patients in upwards of $900 for a one-month supply.
However, the cost is expected to significantly decrease once the Italian government puts their latest homegrown proposal to work. The plan has already received approval from Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin, with a formal announcement expected by the end of September.
“From a pharmaceutical point of view, there are no issues with medical marijuana use as its beneficial effects are out of doubt,” she said. “However it has to be treated as a medicine.”
Italy also believes that individuals previously imprisoned for marijuana-related offenses should not continue to serve time. The country recently reverted its drug policy back to a time before it imposed mandatory sentencing that tripled the prison time for pot offenses. Now, many inmates are looking to have their sentences drastically reduced, while thousands of others will be released.
“The so-called drug war as conceived in North America has been lost and it’s time to return to rational rules that distinguish between substances,” said Franco Corleone with Society of Reason.
The Italian government’s decision to reduce the sentences of marijuana offenders is expected to greatly reduce the inmate population of Europe’s most overcrowded prison system. Statistics show that nearly 40 percent of Italy’s 60,000 prisoners are currently doing time for drug-related crime.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73..