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>> Sreenivasan: 220 POUNDS OF
MARIJUANA.
IT MIGHT NOT BE SURPRISING TO
LEARN THAT THAT’S NOT ENOUGH TO
MEET THE MEDICAL NEEDS OF A
COUNTRY OF 60 MILLION PEOPLE, A
COUNTRY LIKE ITALY, WHERE
MEDICAL WEED WAS FIRST ALLOWED
MORE THAN A DECADE AGO.
WHAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU ABOUT
ITALY’S LEGAL MARIJUANA CROP IS
WHO’S DOING THE GROWING.
NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL
CORRESPONDENT CHRIS LIVESAY HAS
OUR STORY.
>> Reporter: MEET COLONEL
ANTONIO MEDICA OF THE ITALIAN
ARMY.
HIS MISSION MIGHT SURPRISE YOU.
TO GROW ENOUGH MARIJUANA FOR ALL
OF ITALY’S MEDICAL NEEDS, HE
GROWS IT INSIDE THIS HEAVILY
GUARDED MILITARY FACILITY IN
FLORENCE.
HE ADMITS ALL THESE OFFICERS AND
SOLDIERS WEARING LAB COATS KIND
OF MAKES IT FEEL LIKE AREA 51.
>> AREA 51.
OKAY. OKAY.
>> Reporter: BUT NOTHING LIKE
THAT GOING ON.
>> NO MARTIANS INSIDE HERE.
>> Reporter: NO MARTIANS, OKAY.
I’LL TRUST YOU ON THAT ONE.
NO LITTLE GREEN MEN.
JUST LITTLE GREEN PLANTS.
TO SEE UP CLOSE, WE HAVE TO SUIT
UP LIKE SURGEONS SO AS NOT TO
CONTAMINATE THIS ARTISANAL
PRODUCT.
THE AIR IS THICK WITH THE
SMELL OF MARIJUANA.
DESPITE THE MASK.
>> Reporter: THEN WE HAVE TO
PASS THROUGH TWO AIRTIGHT
DOORWAYS.
ON THE OTHER SIDE– ALL THE
MARIJUANA LEGALLY GROWN AND
PRESCRIBED IN ITALY.
>> MEDICAL MARIJUANA MUST BE
GROWN WITH EXTREMELY HIGH
STANDARDS, INDOORS WITH NO
PESTICIDES AND UNDER STRICT
SANITARY CONDITIONS.
THAT’S WHY THE MILITARY IS
PRODUCING MARIJUANA.
THE ARMY WAS ALREADY RESPONSIBLE
FOR PRODUCING ORPHAN DRUGS THAT
TREAT RARE DISEASES, BECAUSE WE
CAN GUARANTEE A MARGIN OF SAFETY
THAT WILL BE DIFFICULT
ELSEWHERE.
>> Reporter: MEDICA AND HIS
TEAM DO EVERYTHING IN-HOUSE
FROM GROWING AND DRYING TO
HARVESTING AND PACKAGING FOR
PHARMACIES AND HOSPITALS.
THE PATIENTS WHO ARE REQUIRED TO
HAVE A PRESCRIPTION PAY ABOUT
$12 PER GRAM.
>> ONE OF OUR MAIN OBJECTIVES IS
TO FIGHT THE BLACK MARKET.
IN FACT, THE FINAL PRICE OF OUR
CANNABIS IS LOWER THAN THE BLACK
MARKETS, PRECISELY TO PREVENT
PATIENTS FROM BUYING IT ON THE
STREETS.
>> Reporter: BUT ITALY’S ONE AND
ONLY MEDICAL MARIJUANA FACILITY
HAS A PROBLEM.
THE COLONEL SAYS IT JUST CAN’T
MEET ITALY’S GROWING DEMAND FROM
PATIENTS.
THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT HAS NO
DATA ON HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE
CANNABIS PRESCRIPTIONS.
PHARMACISTS WE SPOKE TO ESTIMATE
TENS OF THOUSANDS AND THEY’RE
EACH FIGHTING FOR A PIECE OF
WHAT THE ARMY GROWS.
LAST YEAR THAT WAS ONLY 220
POUNDS.
>> THE HEALTH MINISTRY AND THE
DEFENSE MINISTRY ARE TRYING TO
FIX THE SHORTFALL BECAUSE
THERE’S BEEN A HUGE INCREASE IN
CANNABIS PRESCRIPTIONS, AND THE
NUMBER OF PATIENTS WHO NEED
THEM.
>> Reporter: DO YOU HAVE CANCER?
>> YEAH, I HAVE CANCER IN LUNGS,
AND THIS IS A GOOD METHOD TO
KEEP MY PAIN LOW.
>> Reporter: ELENA GALLI IS ONE
OF THOUSANDS OF PATIENTS WHO
HAVE RUN OUT OF MEDICAL
MARIJUANA.
I CAUGHT UP WITH HER OUTSIDE A
MARIJUANA CONFERENCE IN ROME.
SHE CHASED DOWN THIS PHARMACIST
TO SEE IF HE KNEW WHERE TO FIND
ANY.
HE TELLS HER MOST PHARMACIES
HAVE RUN OUT TOO.
FOR NOW, SHE’LL HAVE TO WAIT.
>> HERE’S THE PROBLEM.
DEMAND IS CONSTANTLY INCREASING.
LAST YEAR, ITALY RESPONDED TO
THE SHORTFALL BY IMPORTING 440
POUNDS FROM THE NETHERLANDS AND
PATIENTS HAVE GONE MONTHS
WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO FILL THEIR
PRESCRIPTIONS.
THIS YEAR, ITALY WILL IMPORT AN
ADDITIONAL 220 POUNDS FROM
CANADA.
BUT IT’S LIKELY WILL RUN OUT
AGAIN BEFORE THE END OF THE
YEAR.
>> Reporter: AND HOW LONG HAS IT
BEEN SINCE YOU’VE HAD ANY
CANNABIS?
>> ONE MONTH.
>> Reporter: SO ONE MONTH YOU’VE
BEEN SUFFERING THROUGH THE PAIN.
>> YEAH. YEAH.
>> Reporter: SHE SAYS HER ONLY
ALTERNATIVE TO TURN TO THE BLACK
MARKET.
SO FAR, THE RISK OF BEING CAUGHT
OR GETTING A BAD PRODUCT HAVE
KEPT HER AWAY.
FOR THOSE WILLING TO TAKE THE
RISK, THERE’S JOHN DOE.
HE’S ASKED US NOT TO USE HIS
REAL NAME OR SHOW HIS FACE
BECAUSE HE GROWS AND SELLS
MARIJUANA ILLEGALLY.
HE SAYS DESPITE THE ARMY
PRODUCING MEDICAL MARIJUANA,
BLACK MARKET WEED IS HERE TO
STAY AND, IN HIS OPINION, IT’S
OFTEN A BETTER PRODUCT.
>> THE MILITARY IS DOING A
HORRIBLE JOB.
THEIR POT IS LOW QUALITY AND
FULL OF SEEDS.
IT’S GARBAGE.
PLUS, THEY’RE NOT PRODUCING
ENOUGH FOR THE PEOPLE WHO NEED
IT.
THAT OPENS UP THE DOOR FOR THE
MAFIA.
PEOPLE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO
TURN TO THE MAFIA FOR MEDICINAL
OR RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA, OR
INDEPENDENT GROWERS.
THAT’S ONE REASON I PRODUCE MY
OWN BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO
SUPPORT ORGANIZED CRIME.
>> Reporter: CAFÉ OWNER CARLO
MONACO USES MARIJUANA TO TREAT
HIS ANOREXIA.
HE SAYS THERE’S ANOTHER GOOD
REASON TO FIND AN ALTERNATE
SOURCE OF POT.
THE GOVERNMENT’S ISN’T POTENT
ENOUGH FOR SOME PATIENTS,
INCLUDING HIM.
HE NO LONGER USES THE MILITARY’S
WEED.
INSTEAD, HIS LOCAL HOSPITAL HAS
TO ORDER A MORE POWERFUL STRAIN
FROM ABROAD.
THIS WHAT YOU GET FROM HOLLAND,
RIGHT?
>> YES.
>> Reporter: AND WHY DO YOU GET
IT FROM HOLLAND?
WHY DON’T YOU GET THE ITALIAN
PRODUCT?
>> BECAUSE ITALIAN ARMY DOESN’T
PRODUCT THESE KIND OF WEED.
>> Reporter: AND MONACO’S RIGHT.
ACCORDING TO DATA FROM THE
ITALIAN HEALTH MINISTRY, DUTCH
MEDICAL MARIJUANA IS
APPROXIMATELY THREE TIMES AS
POTENT WHEN IT COMES TO T.H.C.
THAT’S THE COMPOUND IN POT THAT
GETS YOU HIGH.
>> THE BEST SOLUTION WOULD BE
IF THE GOVERNMENT WOULD LET US
GROW THESE PLANTS OURSELVES.
I SPEND 500 TO 1,000 EUROS A
MONTH SINCE I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH
THESE PATHOLOGIES.
IF I GREW MY OWN PLANTS, I
WOULDN’T HAVE TO.
>> Reporter: GROWING YOUR OWN
PLANTS IS SOMETHING NEITHER
ITALY NOR ANY OTHER E.U. COUNTRY
ALLOWS.
MEDICA SYMPATHIZES WITH PATIENTS
WHO HAVE RUN OUT, BUT THINKS
AMATEUR POT CULTIVATION IS A
DANGEROUS IDEA.
>> THIS PLANT ABSORBS HEAVY
METALS FROM THE GROUND.
IF IT’S NOT FARMED IN PROPER
CONDITIONS, YOU RUN THE RISK OF
OBTAINING A FINAL PRODUCT THAT’S
HIGHLY POLLUTED WITH HEAVY
METALS THAT THE PATIENT WILL
ABSORB.
IT’S VERY BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH.
>> Reporter: BUT PATIENTS SAY SO
IS A SHORTAGE OF MEDICAL
MARIJUANA.
COLONEL MEDICA INSISTS THAT HE
AND THE MILITARY ARE NARROWING
THE GAP.
>> WE’RE WORKING ON IT AND
OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS, WE
SHOULD REACH AN ANNUAL YIELD OF
AT LEAST 660 POUNDS.
>> Reporter: THAT’S TRIPLE THE
CURRENT OUTPUT.
MARIJUANA USERS OWE THE
PREDICTED INCREASE TO A NEW
HEALTH BILL THAT WILL GIVE THE
ARMY AN ADDITIONAL $2 BILLION
IN PUBLIC FUNDING AND MAKE
MEDICINAL POT FREE NATIONWIDE.
>> SO THE CANNABIS PROJECT IS
NOW MOVING TO THE NEXT PHASE.
RIGHT BEHIND ME THERE’S ANOTHER
VARIETY THAT WILL START
DISTRIBUTING THIS YEAR, WHICH
CONTAINS ALMOST THREE TIMES AS
MUCH T.H.C.
OF COURSE, WE PREDICT DEMAND IS
ONLY GOING TO INCREASE.
WE’RE NOWHERE NEAR THE CEILING.
THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING.

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