Global Cannabis: Italy


Italy not only possesses the gondoliers of Venice, but it also has the No. 2 medical marijuana market in Europe. Photo by Tom Podmore

Milestones in the Medical Cannabis Program

Doctors could first recommend cannabis-derived medicine in 2006, but significant quantities weren’t prescribed until 2014.


Key Laws and Regulations

  • Law: April 8, 1998, n. 94
  • Ordinance: July 18, 2006
  • Ministerial Decree: April 18, 2007
  • Ministerial Decree: Jan. 23, 2013


Market Data

  • No centralized registry of patients exists.
  • Sales of flower totaled 578 kilograms (1,274 pounds) in 2018, up 65% from 351 kilograms in 2017.
  • Total sales in 2019 are expected to reach about
    900 kilograms, according to Marijuana Business Daily.
  • The retail price per gram varies wildly depending on how much was prescribed and in what form (individual doses and oil are commonly available). Typically, however, the price ranges from $17 to $21 (15-19 euros per gram. Pharmacies buy product from the military at a cost of about $10 (9 euros) per gram.


Medical Cannabis Products Available in the Market

Products with marketing authorization:

  • Sativex to treat multiple sclerosis.

Products without marketing authorization—cannabis flower that the pharmacist must prepare as either:

  • Ground flower ready for vaporizing or making tea.
  • Full-spectrum extract.


North American Companies in the Market

  • Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis is the only North American company currently supplying cannabis to Italy.
  • Other Canadian companies are active in the country by owning an importer, but they’re importing only from the Netherlands, not their own cultivation centers.
  • Aurora Cannabis was the sole winner in July of a tender to supply 400 kilograms of product.

Big Picture

  • Italy is the second-largest medical cannabis market in Europe.
  • Most product was imported from the Netherlands, purchased from the Dutch Office of Medical Cannabis and produced by Bedrocan. The Italian Ministry of Defense (the only authorized local grower) produces roughly 100-150 kilograms of cannabis per year. Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis won the first supply tender in 2018 to sell 100 kilograms and the second tender in
    mid-2019 to sell 400 kilograms in a two-year period.
  • Fourteen of the 20 Italian geographic regions have legislation in place to reimburse patients for cannabis obtained by prescription.
  • To qualify, MMJ patients must have a serious condition and cannabis should be prescribed only as a last resort.