Pubdate: Wed, 01 May 2002
Source: Reuters (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Reuters Limited
Author: Rosella Lorenzi


FLORENCE, Italy - 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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MAP posted-by: Beth