The Italian cabinet gave its approval Thursday for the use of marijuana derivatives, such as the sublingual spray Sativex, in pain relief, the German agency Deutsche Presse Agentur reported. The move reverses the anti-drug policy enforced by the previous government of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was defeated by current Prime Minister Romano Prodi earlier this year.
"We are talking about pain relief therapy. This has nothing to do with smoking joints," Health Minister Livia Turco told reporters after the cabinet meeting where the decision was made. "These drugs are already in use in Canada, Switzerland, and Holland," she added.
Although the Prodi government has vowed to relax stiffened drug penalties enacted by the Berlusconi government, this move has nothing to do with that, said Turco. "If someone mentions cannabis then the whole world is in uproar. We're talking about therapies against pain."