Medical cannabis makes small steps in EU. Italy Suffers from the serious medical cannabis shortage.

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As of 1 January, Denmark now allows the use of medical cannabis for patients suffering from various illnesses.

The four year-trial was authorised on 18 December by the parliament in Copenhagen, in a move which also licensed some companies to grow and produce the drug in the Scandinavian country.

Capsules, cannabis extract as a mouth spray, and dried cannabis flowers for vaporising or teas are the main authorised medicines in the EU, a 2017 report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Addiction (EMCDDA) states.

By contrast, no country authorises the smoking of cannabis for medical purposes – given the risks that smoking poses to health, especially if combined with tobacco.

In the EU, only Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Spain currently authorise marijuana's use as a medicine - while a few other states are planning legislation on the issue.

In fact, Italy is currently experiencing a serious medical cannabis shortage, since not enough marijuana plants for medical use are grown, patients and NGOs report.

Patients had to resort to the "black market and self-cultivation" as a result of the shortage, the Italian Association for Civil Liberty & Rights (CILD) reported in December.

To tackle the lack of plants, the Italian ministry of defence (responsible for the secure growing of medicinal cannabis) was forced to look abroad to buy some 100 kilos of marijuana in November.