Why is the Italian army growing medical marijuana?

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Medical marijuana patients in Italy will soon have a new supplier: the Italian army.

The Italian government wants to lower the price of medical marijuana, which can cost 38 euros a gram, equal to $42. For a point of comparison, that's roughly double the price of a medical gram in Washington, D.C.

To combat high prices, the army announced the cultivation mission in September. On Thursday, they released photos of the first crop, published on the Corriere della Sera news website. The video appears to be down at the moment, but we were able to screengrab an image.


The weed is being grown at a high-security pharmaceutical facility in Florence and the army plans to produce 220 pounds of the drug each year, the BBC reports.


Why is medical pot so expensive? Italy imports it from abroad, mostly from the Netherlands. The hope is that homegrown weed will cost less than half as much than the imported product.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Italy since 2007. A group of lawmakers in the Italian Parliament are currently working on a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, as well.


Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.