Italian region backs medical marijuana
By Rosella Lorenzi
FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters Health) - The council of Italy's northern region of Lombardy approved on Tuesday a motion in favour of marijuana-based medicines, asking the Italian government and the parliament "to regulate the medical use of cannabis and its derivatives."
While Canada, the UK, Spain, Australia, Holland and some US states allow the use of marijuana as a treatment for chronic illnesses, at least in clinical trials, in Italy there is no legal way to obtain it but to ask for a magistrate's ruling.
After listing several scientific studies showing the efficacy of cannabinoids--the active substances in cannabis--in moderating pain, spasms and nausea, the Lombardy document specifies that "the choice to approve the therapeutic use of cannabis should not be included in the debate on the prohibitionist and anti-prohibitionist approach to drugs."
"Physicians must be able to prescribe their patients the drugs and the therapy they consider most appropriate. Thousands of patients are waiting for the legislation to regulate the therapeutic use of cannabis," Yasha Reibman, a doctor and regional councillor of the radical party, which presented the motion, said in an official statement.
The Lombardy document "commits the president of the Regional Council and the president of the Region to communicate its content to the government and the parliament."
But health minister Girolamo Sirchia remained skeptical. "From what we know, cannabis' benefits are not particularly significant. Also, they are not exclusive: on the market there are already products with the same indications," he told the daily Corriere della Sera.
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