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Italy: Medical cannabis comes to Calabria

In Reggio Calabria, the councilman and group leader in the Regional Council of President De Magistris, Ferdinando Laghi presented the bill on therapeutic cannabis. The law was approved unanimously. From now on cost of medicinal cannabis will be borne by the health service.

Ferdinando Laghi, of the De Magistris List; Michele Comito, of Forza Italia; Amalia Bruni, of the Mixed Group; Giuseppe Graziano, of the UDC; Simona Loizzo, of the Lega; and Giuseppe Neri, of Fratelli d'Italia, all signed the proposal. The law is an important step for the region since Calabria, along with Molise, was the only district that had not regulated the plant.

The law resolves two relevant situations that citizens were going through: first, in the absence of regional law, patients had no way of obtaining medical cannabis from the health system; second, patients who did not have access to treatment had opted for self-cultivation, increasing the chances of ending up in court. One of the best-known cases is that of Cristian Filippo, acquitted for cultivating two cannabis plants to calm fibromyalgia pains, after a trial in which he risked six years in prison.

"The unanimous vote of the Regional Council, free from any political affiliation, brings even more value to a provision aimed to protect not only Calabrian's right to health but to eliminate odious disparities and inequalities between those who have been able to buy this type of drugs and those who instead had to do without them due to their economic conditions, perhaps resorting to illegal initiatives - although dictated by the state of necessity - thus running risks also of a judicial nature", said Laghi.

The Councilman also highlighted the importance of these drugs in those serious and painful pathologies, thus highlighting their analgesic effect in clinical situations such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and chronic pain. This drug provides great benefits in chemotherapy patients, stimulating appetite in various forms of anorexia, in ophthalmology, and patients suffering from Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.

Who can prescribe the drugs? For which pathologies are they intended?

Cannabis-based medications and preparations must be prescribed by qualified general practitioners and pediatricians registered with the Provincial Board of Surgeons and Dentists. Prescriptions must be made following a therapeutic plan prepared by medical specialists.

The pathologies foreseen by the decree are:

  • analgesia in conditions involving spasticity associated with pain (e.g. multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury) resistant to conventional therapies;

  • analgesia in chronic pain (with particular reference to neurogenic pain) in which treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, cortisone, or opioid drugs has failed;

  • the anticinetosic and antiemetic effect in nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and anti-HIV therapies, unavailable with traditional treatments;

  • appetite stimulant effect in cachexia, anorexia, loss of appetite in cancer or AIDS patients, and in anorexia nervosa, unavailable with standard treatments;

  • the hypotensive effect in glaucoma resistant to conventional therapies;

  • The reduction of involuntary movements in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.

Cannabinoid drugs must include the prescription at all times.

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