When Italian lawmakers legalized hemp in 2016, it meant that farmers across the country could grow cannabis sativa as long as it contains less than 0.2 percent THC.
Since 2016 around 2,000 business have opened; all dedicated to the cultivation and marketing of hemp. They call it “cannabis light” in Italy, and that’s because although it is cannabis, it’s a far cry from what most people in America are used to. It costs around $10-12 per gram, tastes different, and has no psychoactive effects.
It does, however, leave people feeling relaxed and calm – and in many cases pain-free and ready for a good night’s sleep. Italians are so into cannabis light these days that it has led some researchers to have a closer look at the short-term impact.
In many ways, the new legislation was a throwback to the 1940s when Italy was one of the largest industrial hemp producers in the world. Even though it was illegal back then to smoke heavy-THC cannabis, industrial hemp was allowed. Industrial hemp produces CBD, the distant cousin of THC. But unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high or leave you feeling dazed or disoriented. With the new law allowing low THC, high CBD cannabis to be grown in Italy, an interesting study just found that it’s affecting Italian pharmaceutical intake.
Three researchers from the UK found it interesting that many Italians started self-medicating with CBD soon after it became legal in the country. The researchers from York University found that in cities where cannabis light was readily available, prescriptions for “opioids, anxiolytics, sedatives, anti-migraine, anti-epileptics, anti-depressives, and anti-psychotics” dropped remarkably.
The study, published by HEDG (Health, Econometrics and Data Group) noted that, “we find that the arrival of light cannabis in a given province (in Italy) led to a reduction in the number of dispensed boxes of anxiolytics by approximately 11.5%, reduction of dispensed sedatives by 10% and a reduction of dispensed anti-psychotics by 4.8%.”
By 2018, all of the 106 provinces in Italy had at least one “light cannabis retailer,” akin to a cannabis dispensary in the US. This means that CBD became available within a few short years to millions of Italians and the numbers from the study speak for themselves.
However, despite the encouraging statistics from the survey, authorities in Italy are hardly on board and have even shut down a bunch of dispensaries suspected of selling higher THC products to consumers. A recent report in The Local noted that the high court in Italy recently ruled that all cannabis derivatives sold as formulated products are illegal for sale. The fact that a right-leaning government recently took control in Italy didn’t help matters either when it comes to CBD.
We reported recently on the situation in Italy, in our report entitled, ‘Italian Government Waging War on CBD Flowers,’ noting that Italian Interior Minister, Mattea Salvini, declared war on cannabis in Italy. He told reporters recently that he wants to shutter all CBD outlets “one by one,” despite all the positive effects legalizing hemp has already had in Italy. Salvini seems so obsessed with cannabis and CBD that he even threatened to cause the government to collapse if they fail to comply with his demands and ultimatums.
“From today, I’ll go to war on cannabis street by street, shop by shop, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city,” Salvini said. However, for the time being, the CBD stores across the 106 provinces are doing a booming business as Italians take more and more interest in self-medicating with CBD.
It remains to be seen what effect Salvini and his friends will have on the reality on the ground when it comes to rampant CBD sales in Italy. It is hoped by many that the government and other relevant authorities there will see sense and allow Italian citizens to choose a natural alternative to prescription medications if they so choose.