Italian medical cannabis sales dropped in 2023 for the first time since the country pioneered medical legalisation in Europe a decade ago. Says, Arnau Valdovinos Founder & Principal Consultant @ Cannamonitor

Arnau Valdovinos Founder & Principal Consultant @ Cannamonitor | Market Intelligence posted the following to Linked in this week.

Italian medical cannabis sales dropped in 2023 for the first time since the country pioneered medical legalisation in Europe a decade ago.

Italy, which used to lead the European market, is now falling behind not only Germany but also the UK and Poland, in terms of patient access to cannabinoid medicine.


Despite the introduction of extracts and the government’s vow to increase both domestic and foreign supply, sales have stagnated at about 1.5 tonnes distributed per year.

Flower supply is currently limited to imports from Bedrocan through the Dutch government, a military public tender currently awarded to Spanish Linneo Health, and the military’s very limited own production.

Local CBD growers like DolomitiGrow were interested in supplying the medical scheme but have not been allowed yet.

In the last couple of years, players like Tilray Medical Europe and Curaleaf have introduced extracts into the market, hoping to facilitate magistral preparations and increase prescription rates among professionals.

In regions like Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna, extracts have been approved for public reimbursement. However, this does not seem to have helped improve its penetration.

Problems plaguing the Italian medical scheme include:

Unreliable supply: there are frequent shortages of product even a decade after the inauguration of the scheme, making continuity of treatment an unattainable feat for most patients, despite the limited number of preparations available in galenic pharmacies.

High levels of bureaucracy: the government restricts the companies able to import and distribute products, the products that can be imported, who can produce domestically, fixates prices… each region imposes rules for prescription and reimbursement.

‍⚕️ Lack of prescribing doctors: bureaucratic hurdles on prescribers, limitations on private actors and a lack of physician education have constrained the number of patients to some 20,000, despite millions of Italians claiming to use cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

In spite of leading Europe in CBD production and boasting one of the highest usage rates in the continent (over 10% of adults in the last year), Italy’s government-led model is causing it to lag behind in the European framework for cannabinoid product access.

The liberalisation of the sector with streamlined access and more suppliers could bring about significant market opportunities and solace patients who have had to fend for themselves for too long while fuelling the illicit market.

Do you expect Italy to revamp its medical cannabis access regulations and resume growth? Let me know in the comments

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