Patient association spreads information on medicinal cannabis in Italy

Italy is one of few countries where reimbursement of costs for medicinal cannabis is possible. But how does it work in each Italian region? As an experienced patient, Founder Isabella Palazzo of the Italian Patient Association Tutela Pazienti Cannabis Medica is working hard to raise awareness about access to medicinal cannabis in Italy. The association organises workshops for healthcare professionals and spreads information to patients on how to access medicinal cannabis and how the costs can be covered by the Italian National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale; SSN).


Isabella Palazzo is the president of the association. She has several pathologies, which combined generate a lot of pain. She started using medicinal cannabis because conventional medicines did not help relieve her symptoms. As a medicinal cannabis patient, she experienced first-hand the challenges patients face to access medicinal cannabis in Italy. That is why she decided to set up the patient association: “I was driven by the need of sick Italian citizens, who found themselves abandoned to their own luck when it comes to medicinal cannabis.” According to Isabella, despite being legal in Italy since 2006, Italian doctors still have strong prejudices towards cannabis: “Patients are often denigrated by doctors when they ask for treatment with cannabis.”

Free cannabis

Out of the twelve years as a patient, Isabella has been able to get her medicinal cannabis for free for ten years. Currently, the Italian government allows the costs of medicinal cannabis to be reimbursed by the National Health Service (SNN). However, there is a maximum cap for the costs, and only specific health conditions are covered. Additionally, Italian regions have the autonomy to determine for which conditions the costs can be covered and can designate eligible doctors that can prescribe, which varies a lot between regions. Isabella:Unfortunately, barriers for patients to access medicinal cannabis remain. The regional laws are not helpful as there are many discrepancies. For example, in the Molise region, they have no regional law and patients who want access to this treatment are forced to pay for the costs themselves.”


The patient association has been offering workshops to doctors and pharmacists in different regions of Italy. During the workshops, they provide a comprehensive overview of cannabis research, how to prescribe medicinal cannabis in Italy and more information about pharmaceutical preparations. The first workshop was held in Milan in February this year. Another workshop took place on 16 May in the city of Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. According to Isabella, the association is focused on raising awareness among doctors throughout Italy: “Rather than raising awareness among patients, who sometimes know more than doctors in this regard, we want to raise awareness among doctors, as they are really reluctant to prescribe cannabis.”

On 5 July, the association is hosting a webinar on “Prescription, use and reimbursement in the various regions”. Other two workshops are planned until the end of 2024:

  • 12 September in Macerata, Le Marche
  • 12 December in Rome

Doctors and pharmacists can register for the webinar and future workshops through the association’s website.

Workshop In Milan 1

Cannabis in Italy

It is legal to grow, sell, and import medicinal cannabis in Italy. However, it requires authorisation from the Italian Ministry of Health. The cultivation, sale and import are mainly managed by the state, and the Italian armed forces lead local production. Cannabis produced by Bedrocan is also imported from the Netherlands through the Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC). The Italian government can also open public tenders from time to time to meet extra demand. According to data from the Italian Ministry of Health, more than 1.4 tons of cannabis were dispensed in Italy in 2023, which includes cannabis extracts.

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