For 2023, the Italian army intends to produce “700 kilograms of top quality cannabis” to cover almost half of the 1,500 kilograms required each year in the country.
“The next step is self-sufficiency – that’s our ambition,” he told DefenseNews Nicola Latorre, who heads the Italian agency overseeing the operation.
If medical cannabis is legal in Italy, the country now imports it mainly from the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark or Germany. In 2019, the Canadian company Aurora won the supply of 400 kilos of medical cannabis.
The Italian army is the only local source of supply thanks to a production site located on the outskirts of Florence and has produced between 30 and 200 kilos of medical cannabis since 2017 depending on the year. In 2020, it produced 37 kilos for 3% of the therapeutic cannabis supplied to Italian patients. In 2021, it was 102 kilos (8% of the cannabis supplied). In 2022, at 300 kilos according to the figures she gives to DefenseNews and not verified by an independent source.
In order to reach its goal of around 700 kilos in 2023, “the technicians are perfecting the lighting, watering, temperature and ventilation, and they are using a mixture of secret nutrients developed in-house which are mixed with the irrigation. hydroponics. »
“We hope that the sterile room [à Florence] will produce up to 100 kg of cannabis each year, strictly intended for patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis and people suffering from other pathologies that could be relieved by the drug”, reported in 2016 the Italian army.
Colonel Gabriele Picchioni, who oversees the cannabis facility in Florence for the Italian military, told DefenseNews that the lab “aims to produce cannabis-infused olive oil, which users can take in the form of drops.”
“What we can do in Florence is produce a highly standardized product so that the dosage is invariable, at the same price that we currently pay for imports,” Picchioni said.
The reasons the country’s military has been put in charge of cannabis production are twofold: “to produce cannabis in a secure facility, and because the armed service has been in the pharmaceutical industry for decades, producing antidotes to chemical warfare and malaria pills for the soldiers”.
The army “also manufactures so-called orphan drugs, that is, drugs intended to treat rare diseases or conditions that large companies ignore because of low production rates”. It produces “four such drugs to supply 3,000 people in Italy”.
As cannabis production intensifies, the army grows only two varieties of cannabis: FM1 (13%-20% THC <1% CBD) and FM2 (5-8% THC 7-12% CBD), which mean Farmaceutico Militare.
FM1, however, struggles to match the THC levels of strains like Bedrocan (a 22% THC Jack Herer), the company’s bestseller of the same name, and the production of FM2, which contains levels of cannabinoids similar to Bediol from Bedrocan, is so far insufficient.